Joyless January saw Britain’s imports slump by £4.9bn and exports by £600m

The value of imports into the UK tumbled by 8.7% in January and exports also fell by 1.8%. Britain’s trade with the EU saw the steepest fall. The international delivery specialist ParcelHero says ‘Joyless January’ shows why UK importers are demanding an end to post-Brexit bureaucracy.

The total value of UK goods imports tumbled by £4.9bn in January, according to new UK Trade figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). That’s a drop of 8.7% against December. Britain’s goods exports also fell by £0.6bn, a dip of 1.8%.

In response to this overall £5.5bn fall in the combined total value of the UK’s overseas trade, the international delivery expert ParcelHero says more progress must be made in reducing red tape and time-consuming checks on goods arriving from the European Union (EU).

ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks M.I.L.T., says: ‘Joyless January will be a month Britain’s international traders want to forget, with the value of both imports and exports falling. It looks as if trade with the EU was particularly hard hit.

‘Imports from the EU fell by £2.5bn, an 8.8% plunge compared to December. Our exports to the EU also fell by £700m, a 4.2% drop. That’s a discouraging start to the year’s trade.

‘Things were slightly rosier in terms of trade with non-EU countries. While imports fell by £2.4bn, an 8.7% tumble, exports to countries beyond the European Union actually rose by £100m, a climb of 0.9% over December’s results.

‘Stripping out the impact of inflation, total goods imports (both EU and non-EU) decreased by £4.1bn and exports decreased by £0.3bn.

‘The Government’s Office for National Statistics concedes that January saw “imports falling substantially in value terms from both EU and non-EU countries”. The £2.5bn (8.8%) decrease in imports from the EU in January was mainly the result of a £1.5bn fall in imports of machinery and transport equipment.

‘Part of the reason for the decline in the value of both imports and exports is actually quite a positive one: the cost of fuels and chemicals is falling, which is good news for consumers and many manufacturers. However, this does not explain why EU trade continues to struggle more than exports and imports beyond Europe. It’s vital that the UK continues to rebuild its relationship with the EU. Parliament must approve the changes to the Northern Ireland Protocol that have been agreed with Brussels. Once this is resolved, further negotiations can take place to ease more of the checks and red tape on UK imports from the EU, which were imposed in the aftermath of Brexit.

‘Both importers and exporters can also maximise their profits by rethinking how they prepare items for transportation. By using too much packaging they could be running up unnecessary charges. That’s because international carriers use a measurement called “volumetric weight” to calculate the size of a package. It measures the space a package takes, as well as its actual weight.

‘One problem is that different companies use different divisors to set this rate. And some apply a different volumetric formula for their express service compared to their economy service.”