A fall in trade between the UK and EU shows UK small and medium sized enterprises are increasingly shunning EU exports.
The latest data from the Office for National Statistics shows a second consecutive monthly fall in trade, with the effects of Brexit and the global pandemic resulting in the total exports of goods, excluding precious metals, falling by £1.3bn, or 4.6 per cent in August 2021. This was in part due to a £0.6bn, or 4.3 per cent, fall in exports to the EU.
Total exports of goods, excluding precious metals, in the three months to August 2021 decreased by £1.2bn, or 1.5 per cent.
No focus on exporters
Scrutinising the figures with City A.M. today, Lucy Sutcliffe, national customs director and head of customs at accountacy firm Azets, believes the fall in trade between the UK and EU is a result of a failure to support EU exporters.
“Small UK businesses have been completely overwhelmed by bureaucracy and the additional time and cost it takes to trade across Europe. New duties, border delays and transport costs are pushing UK SMEs into rethinking trade with the EU,” she said.
“The UK’s focus has been on facilitating and streamlining the importation process and easing the associated documentary demands. It has not focused on assisting exporters,” she added.
The temporary customs easements implemented by the UK since Brexit, such as deferred declarations, extensions to the UKCA safety marking of products, product labelling. and the numerous health certification requirements, are not reciprocated by the EU.
“This means UK exporters to the EU have been faced with extra documentary and tariff burdens from day one,” Sutcliffe explained.