According to the Bureau of National Statistics, goods imported from China rose 66% to £ 16.9 billion (US $ 24 billion) in the first quarter of 2018. Imports from Germany fell by a quarter to GBP 12.5 billion over the same period. The change came when trade with the European Union was disrupted by Brexit and the pandemic boosted demand for Chinese goods.
The ONS said German imports to the UK had declined since April 2019 amid uncertainty over the details of Britain’s exit from the EU. The German automotive industry also felt the effects of the pandemic, as both vehicle production and global exports were affected.
In the UK, demand for new vehicles collapsed as dealerships closed due to lockdown measures. Exports of goods to Ireland saw the largest proportional decline of the UK’s five largest export partners after the EU transition period, according to the ONS.
Since modern records began in 1997, Germany has been Britain’s largest source of imports, with the exception of a six-month period in late 2000 and early the following year when the US briefly topped the list.
Despite a 23.1% decline in total trade with European Union countries over the reporting period, the EU remains the UK’s largest trading partner, the report said.