Revealed: New analysis shows Brexit is not to blame for UK post-pandemic export crisis

A new trade analysis has debunked the assumption that a post-pandemic drop in exports can be blamed on Brexit.

Lower export data have been used by pro-remain commentators to suggest that the UK would be better off in the EU.

However, experts at the Centre for Brexit Policy argue that this ignores global issues such as a shortage of computer chips as a result of the pandemic.

Following a drop in North Sea oil and gas production, they warn in a paper to be published this week that the UK is failing to make the most of its natural resources.

Report author Phil Radford said the nature of the UK economy meant it was harder hit than others by disruption caused by Covid.

He said: “In 2019, the motor vehicle and aerospace sectors were easily our biggest goods-export industries.

They delivered a combined 20 percent of all UK goods exports in 2019.

“Yet this sectoral study shows that in the UK, these two sectors were easily the hardest hit by recent global events, including the pandemic, microchip shortages and the temporary collapse of civilian aviation. In G7 terms, this made UK trade uniquely vulnerable to global events.”

He added: “UK exports missed out on recent surges in global demand. Declining long-term investment in the North Sea meant our trade did not benefit from the energy crisis, as happened in the US and Canada.

“Meanwhile, offshoring in our pharmaceutical industry meant we failed to gain from the spike in demand for vaccines, like Germany and the US.”

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However, the report will state that Brexit has had a “trivial” impact on UK-EU trade.

It contradicts claims made by organisations such as the Tony Blair Foundation, which stated in February that Britain’s trade “has been significantly harmed by its exit from the single market.”

Last year, the UK exported £340 billion in products and services to the EU. 

Offshore Energies UK, an energy industry association, warned last month that 90 percent of North Sea oil and gas corporations were slashing investment as a result of the Treasury’s Energy Profits Levy, which is anticipated to raise £40 billion over five years.

Political instability and rising expenses have also slowed investment, according to the sector.