UK exports to the EU surge on weaker pound


Britain’s companies benefited from a boost in sales to the EU in the first six months of this year as export growth exceeded import growth.

The UK imports more than it exports – giving the country with a goods deficit totalling €53bn (£48bn) for the first half of this year in its deal with the EU, a drop from €57.8bn in 2016.

Weaker pound indicates British-made items are more competitive overseas, while imports are more costly to consumers and firms in the UK.

Britain exports a total of €104bn of items to other countries, exceeding the €94.7bn worth of goods it ships to EU consumers. But UK imports from the EU total to €147.7bn, while those from elsewhere total €134.7bn.

The UK’s total trade shortfall has narrowed from €102.2bn in the first six months 2016 to €83.7bn this 2017.

The yearly snapshot of international trade, issued by Eurostat, gives pressure to disputes that the EU relies heavily on Britain’s market for its commodities but also noted that British industry relies on trade with the bloc.

The British trade shortfall could benefit British Brexit negotiators who go to Brussels for the third round of discussions in September. This week the government issued a position paper asking for UK-EU trade to stay frictionless.

In June Germany shipped about twice as much to Britain as it imported – €6.8bn to €3.6bn – giving the UK a €3.2bn deficit.

France, the key influencer on the Brexit talks, sold €2.9bn worth of items to Britain and imported over €2.7bn, giving a modest difference of just €178m.

But Britain sold more to Ireland at €1.9bn than it imported at €1.2bn. Maintaining the “invisible border” between Northern Ireland and Ireland will be part of the talks by British and EU Brexit negotiators in the last week of August.

The Food and Drinks Federation said exports from Britain rose 8.5pc to £10.2bn in the first six months of the year.

“It is great to see such strong growth in our exports to the EU Member States,” the group’s director general Ian Wright said.

He continued, “the EU remains an essential market for UK exports as well as for supplies of key ingredients and raw materials used by our industry. We believe there are significant opportunities to grow our sector’s exports further still.”