Last reviewed 14 September 2021

Total exports of goods, excluding precious metals, fell by £0.3 billion (1.0%) in July 2021 because of a £0.9 billion (6.5%) fall in exports to the EU; while exports to non-EU countries increased by £0.7 billion (5.0%).

According to the latest bulletin from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), available at www.ons.gov.uk/economy/nationalaccounts/balanceofpayments/bulletins/uktrade/july2021, the total trade deficit, excluding precious metals, widened by £1.5 billion to £4.9 billion in the three months to July 2021.

According to the Head of Trade Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), William Bain: “Overall, the figures remain concerning. Taken in conjunction with German trade data from earlier this week, the UK is clearly doing less trade with the EU than three years ago”.

Exports to the EU fell in July, he noted, largely driven by falls in medicinal and pharmaceutical sales.

Although there was evidence of an increase in exports to the EU in the second quarter (Q2) of the year compared with the first, the most striking comparisons are with three years ago, before pandemic and Brexit factors took hold.

This provides a less favourable comparison, the BCC has highlighted, with EU imports £3 billion lower and exports to the EU £1.7 billion lower in July 2021 than in July 2018.

Exports to the EU are running £1.7 billion below where they were three years ago.

“The data also points to the effects labour shortages, particularly among HGV drivers, are having on exports”, Mr Bain concluded. “We will be keeping a close eye on the next set of data, in October, to assess the impact this is having on food imports.”