Responding to today's ONS trade statistics, William Bain, Head of Trade Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, said:
“The pandemic and the shift to new trading conditions in how UK companies sell services to the EU have led to a clear reduction in UK-EU services trade compared with 2019. Today’s ONS data release shows services trade with the EU fell at a brisker rate than trade with the rest of the world over the two years to the end of March 2021. Services exports to the EU fell by 14.7% in that period and imports by 38.8%.
“Today’s statistics indicate that the effects of the pandemic have masked the real long-term impact of the UK-EU TCA on trade in services, particularly in relation to business travel and supply of services. As economies reopen the effects of these issues will be slow burning, but nevertheless felt increasingly by companies operating both in the UK and Europe.
“The UK government should seek to be ambitious in a common agenda with the EU on mutual recognition of professional qualifications, building more flexibility around the TCA for business travel, and liberalising reservations on services access to help kickstart our economic recovery from Covid-19.”