Trade between the European Union and the United Kingdom collapsed in January 2021, the first month of effective divorce between the two partners after Brexit, the European Statistics Office (Eurostat) announced on Thursday March 18.

EU exports to the UK fell 27.4% from January 2020 to €18 billion, and London to the mainland by 59.5% to 6.4 billion euros.

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The British National Statistics Office (ONS) announced on March 12 a drop of nearly 41% in UK exports to the EU and a 29% decline in UK purchases of European products.

The variation between European and British figures is explained by a variation and difference in methodology.

The UK’s exit from the single European market, which entered into force on January 1, had a strong impact on its foreign trade and between bottlenecks in ports already under pressure with the pandemic. Travel restrictions also changed in January, which has led to an accumulation as well as backlogs of orders since the start of the pandemic.

To this were added multiple administrative formalities, additional costs and taxes which weighed on cross-border trade.

According to Eurostat, the EU’s imports from the rest of the world fell by 16.9% in the first month of the year, while its exports fell by 10.8% compared to January 2020.

Overall, Europeans posted a trade surplus of 8.4 billion euros in January, compared to a deficit of 2.2 billion euros in the same month of the previous year.

The UK has been part of the Union, its largest trading partner, for almost half a century, before its breakaway.

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