British exports to the EU are starting to recover from the dual shocks of Brexit and Covid, but not as quickly as hoped.
This was the latest view from the Department for International Trade’s (DIT) director of exports Paul McComb on an Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT) webinar today (6 October) titled ‘How to reboot your exports to the EU’.
McComb pointed to an 11% increase in exports to the continent in the four quarters leading up to Q1 2022 as evidence.
Despite this, UK-EU trade is still not where it was pre-Brexit, with 45% of delegates on the webinar saying their exports to the EU had been ‘negatively impacted’. A quarter said they were exporting at the same levels, while only 3% said they were exporting more.
Reflecting on the trajectory of UK trade, McComb said “in overall trade we’re definitely seeing an increase, and the trend is in the right direction, but maybe the pace of recovery isn’t quite as quick as we would have wanted”.
He outlined the increasing support that DIT and the wider government is providing to traders, including the Export Support Service (ESS).
He said that DIT is expanding ESS to become a “deeper service” with a simpler digital interface. He also raised the new ‘Check how to export or import your goods’ tool from government.
McComb also noted that DIT is also trying to “change the conversation” in Europe in its bid to promote UK exports across the continent.
He noted five DIT campaigns focusing on green trade, supply chains, economic security, digital trade and trade facilitation.
He also said DIT is working with business representative groups across multiple industries to address their concerns and support requirements as the government bids to boost UK exports.
Suzanne Alecrim, a customs and trade consultant at the IOE&IT, gave an overview of the rules for UK exports to the EU that came into effect following the end of the transition period after Brexit on 1 January 2021. This included new rules for claiming preferential tariffs under the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement.
Just under half of the webinar delegates (47%) said ‘compliance with new rules’ was the main challenge when it came to exporting to the EU. Just under a third (32%) answered ‘new costs’.
Susan Roe, a customs and trade specialist at the IOE&IT, also presented on the importance of businesses growing their EU market through tradeshows, e-commerce, and having an international marketing and website strategy.