The minister, who negotiated the EU trade deal last year, said stats from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) which show a drop in trade should be applied with “caution”. Figures indicate exports of UK goods to the EU dropped by 40.7 percent in January, the first month after the end of the Brexit transition period.
Imports from the continent also fell by 28.8 percent over the same period.
Lord Frost has rejected suggestions the lower trade levels are a permanent feature of Brexit, saying a “unique combination of factors made it inevitable that we would see some unusual figures this January”.
He said: “As well as changes to our trading relationship with the EU, we also saw evidence of stockpiling late last year – as the ONS notes.
“This meant less need to move goods in January.
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“Covid lockdowns across Europe are bringing reduced demand for goods overall.”
The minister added he expected to see a large uptick in trade in the next set of figures the ONS release as trade begins to return to normal.
“The latest information indicates that overall freight volumes between the UK and the EU have been back to their normal levels for over a month now, ie since the start of February,” he said.
“We are supporting firms through this period.
“Many businesses have made the changes needed to trade effectively with the EU, but we are focused on providing active and extensive support to others who need to adapt.”
More to follow…