Chamber news: Second Poor Month For EU Exports

Dec 13, 2023

Reacting to the ONS trade data for October 2023, William Bain, BCC Head of Trade Policy, said:  

“Weak economic growth globally, but particularly in Europe, continues to affect UK trade in this last quarter of 2023. While it is good to see goods exports picking up in the Indo-Pacific region, the second successive big drop to the EU is a major concern.

“The picture for imports was more positive. There was a noticeable pick-up in demand for cars, and electrical manufactured goods in the run up to Christmas. On services, the picture is steady, but the strong export growth experienced in 2022 has faded. 

“Against this background, we would urge policymakers in the UK to take further measures to support exports, especially to the EU. We will be releasing our latest recommendation next week in our new report ‘The TCA: 3 Years On’.”

UK Trade In Detail

It is a mixed picture to open the final quarter of the year. Goods exports fell slightly when measured by volume, but goods imports rose substantially – both in current price terms and after removing the effects of inflation. On the current prices measure, EU goods export values fell by £0.9bn (5.8%) but goods import values rose by £1.5bn (6.1%) during October. Non-EU goods export values rose by £1.2bn (8.2%) and import values by £2.1bn (10.9%) over the same period. Overall goods exports on the current prices measure rose by £0.4bn in October (1.2%) 

Overall goods imports volumes rose by 6.7% (£2.5bn) due to a big rise in purchases of machinery and transport equipment, On EU imports, car purchases from Germany were up in October and there were increases in levels of refined oil purchased from the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden.
Goods imports volumes from the rest of the world rose by 8.9% (£1.4bn) in October driven largely by electrical machinery imports from China, increased fuel imports from Norway, chemicals from Canada and pharmaceutical products from Switzerland.

Goods exports volumes fell by 0.3% (£0.1bn). Following the 3.4% decline in goods exports volumes to the EU in September a further slump of 7% occurred in October. Drops in exports of chemicals, manufactured goods (including pharmaceuticals) and food were the main areas of decline in exports to the EU.  Goods exports volumes to the rest of the world, outside the EU, rose by 6.2% (£0.8bn), with increased sales of manufactured goods to India a leading cause, together with increased oil exports to China, and a rise in demand for chemicals.  


On trade in services, import and export volumes both fell slightly. Import volumes fell by £0.1bn, while export volumes fell by £0.2bn. On the current prices measure, there were similar falls in services import values of £0.1bn and in export values of £0.2bn over the month.  

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