We estimate that leaving the single market and customs union had reduced UK trade by 5 per cent by February 2021. That is on top of a 10 per cent hit to trade between the referendum and leaving the single market.
Last month, our cost of Brexit model showed that leaving the single market and customs union in January 2021 had reduced the UK’s total goods trade by 22 per cent. Using the data for February, which was released today, we estimate that goods trade is now 5 per cent, or £3.5 billion, lower. That is a significant improvement on the January data, as we expected, partly because businesses had built up stockpiles to cope with disruption at the EU border in January, and were replenishing them in February, and partly because volatile trade in precious metals rose sharply. Furthermore, the value of trade in ‘doppelgänger UK’ – a group of countries whose trade performance matched that of the UK between 2016 and 2019 – fell slightly in February. Monthly trade data is volatile, so it will take several more months for the impact of Brexit on the level of UK goods trade to become clear.insight_costofbrexit_Feb21_13.4.21
To read the full insight piece by the Centre for European Reform, please click here.