Brexit fuels recovery in Flemish exports in 2020

Figures from export agency Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT) show that Flemish exports to foreign countries plunged 8.1% last year in comparison with 2019.  Towards the end of the year a surge in demand from the UK had a beneficial impact on the figures as UK businesses stockpiled amid the uncertainty ahead of the end of the transition period.

In all Flemish businesses exported 298 billion euros’ worth of goods in 2020.  During the first quarter of corona year 2020 exports fell just 1.6%.  The biggest decrease was recorded in the second quarter that coincided with the strictest lockdown.  Exports collapsed by 21.4%.  Exports made good some lost ground the following quarter but still experienced an 8.8% year-on-year decrease.

During the final quarter of 2020 exports dipped a mere 0.4%.  FIT attributes this minor fall to the end of the transition period and the UK’s departure from the EU trade bloc.  At the tail end of last year UK businesses stockpiled reserves in a bid to avoid any possible disruption. In November and December Flemish exports to the UK surged 30.2% and 42.6%.

FIT says the overall fall in exports last year is better than expected.  Still, the drop of 8.1% is the largest since crisis year 2009, when Flemish exports collapsed 17%.

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