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China has replaced Germany as the UK’s biggest single import market 

June 9, 2021 June 2021 No Comments

China has replaced Germany as the UK’s biggest single import market for the first time on record, partly fuelled by demand for Chinese textiles used for face masks and PPE, official figures showed.

Goods imports from China to the UK increased by 66% since the start of 2018 to £16.9bn in the first quarter of 2021, the Office for National Statistics said. Imports from Germany fell by a quarter over the same period, to £12.5bn. The European Union as a whole remains the largest trading partner for the UK.

China was the first large economy to recover from the pandemic and the only big country to achieve growth in global trade last year. Imports to the UK were also lifted by heightened demand for Chinese electrical goods during lockdown.

Germany had previously been the UK’s most dominant import market since modern records began in 1997, with the exception of six months at the end of 2000 and the beginning of 2001, when more was imported from the US.

The ONS said imports from Germany had been in decline since April 2019, coinciding with Brexit uncertainty and previous EU exit dates. The Covid-19 pandemic has also weighed on German car production and exports worldwide. UK sales dropped in January because of the closure of car showrooms during lockdown.

The figures also showed UK trade with the EU collapsed by nearly a quarter at the start of 2021 compared with three years earlier, as Brexit and Covid-19 disruption hit exports.

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