As we pass the midpoint of the first quarter of the year 2021, cross-Channel trade shows some signs of recovery. The first month of the new trade agreement, with the UK outside of the single market, saw UK export shipments fall compared to January 2020. Recent data shows this may now be beginning to recover.
Loads to the EU reduced by as much as 68% in January
In early February, the Road Haulage Association (RHA) said that shipment loads on lorries going through British ports to the EU were as much as 68% lower than they were in January 2020.
The initial dip was most likely due to the confusion the new paperwork caused for businesses and freight forwarding companies, which resulted in some initially pulling out of jobs to avoid the hassle and increased costs, and resulted in many cargo shipments being rejected at borders.
The government has also suggested that reduced loads can be the result of business stockpiling in the previous months due to Coronavirus pandemic and in preparation for Brexit. Restrictions placed on economic activity due to Covid-19 meant there were less freights going across the borders and around the country during the winter months, which could have also contributed to lower figures in the cross-Channel trade.
The below graph shows the number of freight vehicles leaving Britain by sea. The blue line represents January 2021 and as the graph demonstrates it shows a substantially lower count on most days as compared to January 2020. As the graph approaches February, we can see the two lines merging.
Showing signs of recovery
According to the logistics company Transporeon, the rejection rate for cargo shipped from France to the UK fell to the lowest since the last week of November indicating less friction at the border.
Additionally, the demand to transport cargo from France to the UK increased last week to 17% more than the average in the third quarter.
Equally, the Cabinet Office has released figures that suggest there was a fall in the number of lorries leaving the UK in January and showed evidence that more lorries leaving the UK on ferries bound for Europe were empty than is usually the case. However, the latest figures show that this has returned to normal in February.
A spokesman added: “The latest available data shows that overall freight flows between the UK and the EU are back to their normal levels. This has been possible thanks to the hard work put in traders and hauliers to prepare for the end of the transition period.”
Although the figures released are not official stats, the observations made by the government and the transport companies themselves show an upbeat picture. As hauliers and business owners get used to the new paperwork and customs clearance formalities required after Brexit, the import and export industry is likely to smooth out.
If you’re looking for customs solutions for your business to continue smooth cross-Channel trade with your European business partners, get in touch with our team of experts here at UK Customs Solutions. Fill out our contact form!