UK trade in goods with EU falls sharply after Brexit

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Britain's exports of goods to the European Union (EU) fell by 40.7 percent in January while imports from the regional bloc dropped by 28.8 percent, the British Office for National Statistics (ONS) said Friday.

Falling imports of goods, excluding non-monetary gold and other precious metals, were largely seen in machinery and transport equipment, and chemicals from the EU in January, particularly in imports of cars and medicinal and pharmaceutical products, according to the ONS.

January marked the first month of trade after the Brexit transition period ended on Dec. 31, 2020.

The ONS said multiple factors may have attributed to the falling trade in goods between Britain and the EU. In addition to the changes facing Britain after the transition period ended, the country went into another national lockdown at the beginning of January.

Stockpiling of goods from the EU increased in November and December 2020 in preparation for the end of the Brexit transition period, just like Britain's goods imports from the EU also peaked in the weeks approaching previous Brexit deadlines in March and October 2019, the ONS said.

The ONS said data suggested that importing and exporting to the EU began to increase toward the end of January 2021.

The British government announced on Thursday that it will delay post-Brexit checks on some EU goods coming into Great Britain to help firms recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The need for health certificates on imports such as meat and milk will be pushed back from next month to October.

In contrast to the falling exports to the EU, exports of medicines and pharmaceutical products to non-EU countries increased by 0.3 billion pounds (about 0.42 billion U.S. dollars) in January, and a large proportion is represented by increasing exports to China and Japan, according to the ONS.

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