11 July 2024

Responding to the latest trade data, published by the ONS this morning, William Bain, Head of Trade Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, said:

“UK goods trade performance during May was weak, with the primary drivers in reduced EU trade being lower aircraft and automotive sales, in both directions. UK imports of chemicals and food from the EU were also noticeably lower and are worth keeping an eye on for future trends.

“But the sharp fall in goods trade with the EU, and a smaller decline with rest of the world was partially offset by a growth in services trade during May.

“We will continue our early engagement with the new Government on key trade issues. Export growth must be a core part of the industrial strategy to raise economic growth and competitiveness, alongside plans for critical imports and supply chains.”

The UK Trade Picture In Detail

UK goods imports and exports fell in May 2024, being only partially offset by a rise in UK services trade in the same month. There was a big drop off on imports from the EU, although lower food imports were only one factor identified among several others.


Excluding inflation, the volumes of goods imports into the UK were down 5.2% month on month, with a large 7.6% fall in EU imports, and a smaller 2.2% decrease for the rest of the world. Goods exports fell 2.8% month on month, with a 4.7% decline in export volumes to the EU and a smaller 1% fall to the rest of the world. Goods export values have also declined over the 3 months to the end of May.


UK services export and import volumes grew by £0.1bn apiece during May, with growth of around 0.3%. The three-month figures, to the end of May, for services export values show promising signs of continued growth.

More detail on the latest ONS trade data can be found here.

BCC article here.