A reduction in trade with the EU drove down British exports as lorry driver shortages scupper the normal functioning of trade flows.
Exports were £1.3bn lower in August compared to July, driven by a £600m fall in trade with EU countries, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The contraction in exports was primarily the result of trade of machinery and transport equipment to the EU falling £500m over the last month.
Depressed vehicle export volumes also weighed on total exports.
“Factors that continue to affect both imports and exports in August are staff shortages across a number of industries because of self-isolation and a significant shortage of HGV drivers,” the ONS said.
A shortage of lorry drivers has put a spanner in the normal functioning of the British logistics system, leading to sharp extensions in delivery times.
One of Britain’s biggest ports in Felixstowe has started turning away new shipments due to containers swelling on site as a result of poor HGV driver availability.
The trade balance narrowed £5.5bn to a deficit of £4.2bn in the three months to August.
Exports to non-EU countries dipped £700m over the last month and imports fell £1.2bn. Imports from EU countries edged back £100m.