Global Britain: China overtakes Germany as UK’s biggest import market post-Brexit
Germany is no longer Britain’s most important import market. For the first time since modern records began, the UK imported more goods from another country: China.
During the first quarter of this year, the UK spend £16.9bn on Chinese goods, a jump of 66 per cent in the last three years, according to newly released figures from the Office for National Statistics.
The ONS said the pandemic led to a surge in demand for Chinese goods and Brexit has complicated the what used to be a smooth trading relationship with Germany.
Imports from Germany, on the other hand, dropped by a quarter, to £12.5bn, since early 2018.
Brexit and pandemic
The ONS, assessing the impact of Brexit and the pandemic on UK trading, said German imports into the UK had dropped since March of last year, amid regulatory uncertainty over Britain’s departure from the EU.
Particularly Germany’s gigantic car industry suffered, not least because demand dried up as a result of the pandemic. In the UK, the demand for new vehicles dropped to a record low.
Since modern records began, in 1997, Germany had been the UK’s biggest single import market, apart from a six month period at the end of 2000 and the beginning of 2001 when the US briefly took over.
Imports from Europe’s largest economy, which is the UK’s largest EU trading partner, dropped 30.5 per cent or £1.7 billion between December and January – the biggest fall in imports by value of goods of any major trading partner.
On the other hand, trade with countries outside the bloc fell just 0.8 per cent in total, suggesting that Brexit, not coronavirus, was having the most impact.