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9 February 2022

How UK exports to Germany have plummeted as EU ones surge

British exports to Germany are 19 per cent below pre-pandemic levels, while EU exports are 30 per cent higher.

By Ben van der Merwe

New figures show that British businesses have missed out on Germany’s economic recovery in recent months, with exports continuing to languish 19 per cent below pre-pandemic levels.

Data from the German government reveals that UK exports to Germany in December 2021 stood at just €2.6bn, the lowest level for December since records began in 2000.

The news comes as the Public Accounts Committee reports that regulatory barriers resulting from Brexit have damaged the UK’s ability to trade with the EU. By contrast, EU-wide exports to Germany stood at a record high of €56.3bn, 30 per cent higher than before the pandemic.

Germany’s import market has seen a rapid recovery over the past year, with EU trade volumes breaking records every month since March 2021. Britain left the EU in January 2020, shortly before the Covid-19 pandemic arrived in Europe.

As of November 2021, exports to Germany had surpassed pre-pandemic levels in 23 of the country’s 26 EU trading partners. Only Cyprus has seen a slump comparable to the UK’s, with exports to Germany lagging 26 per cent below pre-crisis levels.

The UK’s high technology firms have suffered most severely from the downturn in trade with Germany, which previously accounted for 10 per cent of all UK exports. 

As of November, the UK’s monthly exports to Germany of aircraft, electric machinery, nuclear reactors and boilers were down by €342m compared with pre-pandemic levels – a fall of 27 per cent in a sector that previously accounted for a third of total exports.

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The UK’s global exports stood at just 4.4 per cent above pre-pandemic levels in November, compared with increases of 8.4 per cent for the EU, 14 per cent for the US and 37 per cent for China.

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