Belgian goods exports to UK fell sharply after Brexit

Belgian exports of goods to the UK fell by 13 per cent between 2018 and 2021, KU Leuven announced on Thursday. Exports of goods from the EU to the UK are about 18 per cent lower than they would have been without Brexit, according to the study, which maps the impact of Brexit on trade.

"Both sides lost, but the losses are proportionally greater in the UK than in the EU," said international economics professor Hylke Vandenbussche. Countries from outside the EU, such as Norway, China and Russia, increased exports to the UK and gained the most from the UK's departure from the EU.

For Belgium, Vandenbussche's research shows that exports of goods to the UK fell by €4 billion between 2018 and 2021. Trade with other EU countries, meanwhile, grew steadily.

"The real impact of Brexit will only become clear in the coming years"

"After 2019, exports took a nosedive, but from 2016, the year of the Brexit referendum, the decline had already started," Vandenbussche said. "This could indicate that companies were already anticipating an exit before 2018."

Products such as cars, food and drink are the biggest losers in terms of exports to the UK. In contrast, exports of pharmaceuticals, machinery parts, plastic parts, optical products and electric cars have increased exponentially since the end of 2019.

Vandenbussche estimates that the drop in Belgian exports is equivalent to a loss of between 28,000 and 32,000 jobs. Overall, the study is just a first assessment, says Vandenbussche. "The real impact of Brexit will only become clear in the coming years."



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