UK Trade with EU

Cabinet Office written question – answered on 20th June 2022.

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Photo of Lord Birt Lord Birt Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the percentage of British businesses that have stopped trading with the EU since 1 January 2021.

Photo of Lord True Lord True Chair, Intergenerational Fairness and Provision Committee, Minister of State (Cabinet Office), Chair, Intergenerational Fairness and Provision Committee

A response to the noble Lord’s Parliamentary Question of 6 June is below and attached.

Professor Sir Ian Diamond | National Statistician

The Lord Birt

House of Lords

London

SW1A 0PW

17 June 2022

Dear Lord Birt,

As National Statistician and Chief Executive of the UK Statistics Authority, I am responding to your Parliamentary Question asking what estimate has been made of the percentage of British businesses that have stopped trading with the EU since 1 January 2021 (HL603).

Unfortunately, the Office for National Statistics does not hold or publish data on the percentage of British businesses that have stopped trading with the EU since 1 January 2021.

Through the Business Insights and Conditions Survey (BICS), however, we do collect some data on the changes businesses have made to how and where they import and export since 1 January 2021.

Estimates from early May 2022 show that 4% of trading exporting businesses changed from exporting their goods and services to EU countries to nations from outside the EU. The percentage of trading importing businesses who changed from importing from within the EU to outside the EU was 2%. Table 1 provides the estimates from BICS at the start of 2021 and May 2022, where we asked businesses that have exported or imported in the last 12 months if they have changed where they have exported/imported goods or services to in the last three months.[1]

In early March 2022, estimates from BICS show that 7% of businesses made changes to supply chains due to the end of the EU transition period. Table 2 provides the time series from BICS, where we asked businesses if they made changes to supply chains due to the end of the EU transition period.

The UK leaving the EU and the subsequent transition period, along with the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, global recession and supply chain disruption, have caused higher levels of volatility in trade statistics in the past two years. We have investigated the impacts of EU exit and COVID-19 on UK trade in goods [2] and UK trade in services [3] in recent articles, and have also examined the extent to which supply chains have shifted following theend of the EU exit transition period in UK trade in goods, year in review: 2021. [4]

However, it continues to be difficult to assess the extent to which trade movements reflect short-term trade disruption or longer-term supply chain adjustments.

Yours sincerely,

Professor Sir Ian Diamond

Table 1: Have you changed where you have exported/imported your goods or services to in the last three months?

Percentage of businesses currently trading and have exported or imported in last 12 months, weighted by count, UK, 8 February 2021 to 15 May 2022

Reference period

Changed from EU to non-EU

Changed from non-EU to EU [5]

No Changes Made

Not Sure

Exporting businesses

8 February to 21 February 2021

2.1%

[c]

93.1%

4.3%

3 May to 15 May 2022

4.2%

1.0%

92.5%

2.3%

Importing businesses

8 February to 21 February 2021

1.7%

1.2%

95.2%

2.5%

3 May to 15 May 2022

1.6%

[c]

91.6%

5.9%

Source: Business Insights and Conditions Survey (BICS) [6]

Table 2: Has your business made changes to supply chains due to the end of the EU transition period?

Percentage of businesses not permanently stopped, weighted by count, UK, 22 March 2021 to 20 March 2022

Reference Period

Yes

No

Not Sure

Not applicable

22 March to 4 April 2021

3.7%

59.6%

4.6%

32.1%

5 April to 18 April 2021

4.3%

57.0%

4.2%

34.5%

19 April to 2 May 2021

3.8%

56.8%

5.3%

34.1%

3 May to 16 May 2021

3.7%

56.9%

3.8%

35.6%

17 May to 30 May 2021

3.6%

47.1%

5.1%

44.2%

31 May to 13 June 2021

4.0%

51.1%

4.2%

40.6%

14 June to 27 June 2021

4.5%

45.0%

5.1%

45.3%

12 July to 25 July 2021

4.3%

36.3%

6.7%

52.7%

9 August to 22 August 2021

4.1%

40.4%

6.4%

49.0%

6 September to 19 September 2021

4.4%

39.2%

6.7%

49.7%

18 October to 31 October 2021

4.9%

48.8%

5.2%

41.2%

15 November to 28 November 2021

5.0%

51.6%

5.0%

38.5%

13 December to 26 December 2021

4.7%

48.3%

4.9%

42.1%

10 January to 23 January 2022

4.7%

41.0%

6.0%

48.2%

7 February to 20 February 2022

4.7%

43.4%

5.6%

46.3%

7 March to 20 March 2022

6.6%

47.8%

4.5%

41.1%

Source: Business Insights and Conditions Survey (BICS)

1 https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/economicoutputandproductivity/output/datasets/businessinsightsandimpactontheukeconomy

2 https://www.ons.gov.uk/businessindustryandtrade/internationaltrade/articles/theimpactsofeuexitandthecoronavirusonuktradeingoods/2021-05-25

3 https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/nationalaccounts/balanceofpayments/articles/theimpactsofeuexitandcoronaviruscovid19onuktradeinservices/latest

4 https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/nationalaccounts/balanceofpayments/articles/uktradeingoodsyearinreview/2021

5 [c] represents data that has been removed for confidentiality reasons, such as percentages less than 1%.

6 Further time periods are available: https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/economicoutputandproductivity/output/datasets/businessinsightsandimpactontheukeconomy

UKSA response to HL603 (pdf, 136.6KB)

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