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Gloucestershire Business News

China overtakes Germany as UK's biggest import market

China has overtaken Germany to become the UK's biggest single import market for the first time since records began.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), goods imported from China rose 66% from the start of 2018 to £16.9bn ($24bn) in the first quarter of 2021.

Meanwhile, during the same period, imports from Germany fell by a quarter to £12.5bn.

The BBC said that the change came about as trade with the European Union was disrupted by Brexit and the pandemic boosted demand for Chinese goods.

The ONS report aimed to assess the impacts of Brexit and the coronavirus on the UK's trade in goods.

It found evidence that trade had been disrupted at the start of the new relationship between the UK and the EU.

The ONS said German imports to the UK had fallen since April 2019, amid uncertainty over the details of Britain's exit from the EU.

Germany's motor industry also felt the impact of the pandemic as both vehicle production and global exports were hit.

In the UK, demand for new vehicles slumped as car showrooms were shut due to lockdown measures.

Exports of goods to Ireland saw the greatest proportionate fall of the UK's top five exporting partners after the EU transition period, the ONS said.

Since modern records began in 1997, Germany had been the UK's biggest source of imports, except for a six-month period at the end of 2000 and the start of the following year when the US briefly took the top spot, said the BBC.

Despite a 23.1% fall in total trade with European Union countries as a whole in the period, the EU remains the UK's biggest trading partner, the report found.

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