UK imports to the EU nearly halved in the first two months since Britain left the single market, new figures this morning showed.
Imports dropped 47.0 per cent over January and February, while exports of the bloc’s products back across the Channel slipped 20.2 per cent, figures from Eurostat show.
As a result of the decline in commerce between the two economies after Brexit, the UK-EU trade balance now stands at €23.2bn, up from €18.6bn last year.
The figures are an early indication of the economic consequences of Britain’s decision to cede access to the single market.
Although fears that the departure from the customs union would lead to devastating snarl-ups at the UK’s borders with the EU, trade has continued to flow with relative freedom this year – albeit at lower levels.
But the economic shock has been compounded by the coronavirus pandemic, which sent the EU’s imports and exports to all of its other major trade partners down as well.
The one exception was China, where both imports and exports jumped – 9.3 and 13.6 per cent respectively.
The increases come after the bloc signed a long-awaited investment agreement with the world’s largest economy in December.