Goods trade gap with EU27 widens by billions – latest official figures

The EU27 sold £269bn of goods to the UK in the 12 months to October

EU27 earned £98 billion on this goods trade with the UK in just 12 months

Last week, while all eyes were focused on the General Election, the Office for National Statistics released its latest trade figures, for the three months to the end of October 2019.

The latest report shows how the EU is continuing to make billions from the UK each month, as a result of the UK’s continued membership of the EU’s Customs Union.

Brexit Facts4EU.Org Summary

The latest goods trade picture with the EU

  • UK bought £269bn of goods from EU27 in 12 months to October
  • UK sold £171bn of goods to the EU27 in the same period
  • The EU27 earned £98 billion on this goods trade in just 12 months
  • The EU27 accounted for (47.8%) of global UK exports
  • Nevertheless it accounted for a massive 63.2% of the UK’s total goods trade deficit

© Brexit Facts4EU.Org - click to enlarge

The goods trade gap with the EU27 is widening

The Office for National Statistics reports that the goods trade deficit with the EU widened in the last three months by £3.5 billion to £25.0 billion in the last three months alone.

Observations

Following the news last night that the Prime Minister intends to drop the clause in his Withdrawal Bill which allows for an extension to the Transition Period beyond 31 Dec 2020, many people will be relieved this morning. The Brexit Facts4EU.Org certainly welcomes this development.

That said, and based on our work in the last four years, we prefer to wait and see what actually happens. The revised Bill is likely to be presented to Parliament on Friday and we will of course be scrutinising this.

Whilst we are on the subject of positives, it is encouraging that the ONS has been reporting on EU versus non-EU trade for some time. When we started, this was rarely the case. We always had to delve into complex spreadsheets to analyse the UK’s trade with the rest of the EU.

The EU trade picture

Overnight we still used the official raw data for our analysis, as this is the only way to assess the trends likely to be of interest to our readership.

As ever we must draw readers’ attention to the fact that the ONS’ figures on goods trade continue to take no account of what is known as “the Rotterdam Effect”. This refers to the enormous number of goods exported from the UK to Dutch and Belgian ports, for onward transshipment worldwide. The value of these goods are are currently still shown within the figures for exports to the EU, whereas in fact they should be shown as exports to the rest of the World.

When we last looked at this in detail, HMRC was estimating that around 2% of total exports were being wrongly classified due to this “Rotterdam Effect”. We then spent days researching shipping records from the ports concerned, and concluded that the effects were greater and that 2% was an absolute minimum figure to use.

Based on the conservative figure though, in the three months to end-October 2019 just 44% of UK exports went to the EU27 countries.

Readers may wish to remember the following key facts when confronted by Remainers still making claims about the EU’s Customs Union and Single Market. These can be used with confidence.

Brexit Facts4EU.Org Summary

  • The EU27 are currently earning at the rate of £100 billion per year from their goods trade with the UK
  • (That’s the value of their sales to the UK minus the UK’s sales to them, pro-rata'd from last 3 mths.)
  • 56% of all UK goods exports do NOT go to our nearest neighbours (the EU) but to the rest of the World
  • Our biggest customer by far is the USA, which buys 44% more goods from the UK than Germany does

Finally, if we are going to see this thing through and fight any fudged Brexit, we need your help to keep going. At the start we thought this might take 6-9 months out of our working lives. It's now almost four years later, and we've exhausted our own resources.

Please help with a donation if you can. Quick and secure donation methods are below.

After all, where have you seen the above information anywhere else?

[ Sources: Office for National Statistics | HMRC ] Politicians and journalists can contact us for details, as ever.

Brexit Facts4EU.Org, 17 Dec 2019

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