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Brexit made Belgian exports drop in January

Credit: Belga

Brexit resulted in a sharp fall of Belgian exports and imports in January, the National Bank of Belgium (NBB) reported on Monday.

Compared to January 2020, imports and exports fell by 16.1% and 11.7% respectively, whereas they were still growing by 1.4% and 3.7% in December 2020.

The quarterly average compared to the corresponding quarter of 2020 shows a drop of 5.8% for imports and 3.8% for exports.

“January 2021 was the first month in which the free movement of goods with the UK was interrupted and new border formalities were required,” the NBB noted.

“Imports and exports with the United Kingdom contracted in January 2021, by -54.4% and -35% respectively,” according to the bank.

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It remains to be seen “whether this is a temporary effect or whether this decline is entirely explained by the new border formalities,” the bank added.

The particularly low figures observed in January may also reflect a backlash after the sharp rise in trade at the end of 2020, when many companies had anticipated possible problems at the borders and renewed their stocks.

Moreover, Belgium’s trade with other partner countries also remains negative overall, with the exception of transactions with China, driven by growth in trade in medicines.

The Brussels Times