EU post-Brexit imports from UK halve in Jan-Feb, trade surplus rises

FILE PHOTO: EU Commission President von der Leyen and British PM Johnson meet in Brussels
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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union's imports from Britain almost halved in the first two months of the year following the UK exit from the EU single market, data showed on Friday, and the 27-nation bloc's trade surplus with Britain rose as exports fell by less.

The European Union's statistics office Eurostat said EU imports from Britain dropped 47.0% year-on-year in January-February to 16.6 billion euros ($19.9 billion) while exports to the United Kingdom declined only 20.2% to 39.8 billion euros.

As a result, the EU's trade surplus with Britain rose to 23.2 billion euros in the first two months after Britain's Brexit transition period expired from 18.6 billion euros in the same period of 2020, when London still enjoyed unfettered access to the EU's single market.

Eurostat said the euro zone's unadjusted trade surplus with the rest of the world fell to 17.7 billion euros in February from 23.4 billion in February 2020. However, because of a strong January, the two-month cumulative result was still better than last year showing a surplus of 28.7 billion euros against 25.0 billion euros in Jan-Feb 2020.

Adjusted for seasonal swings, the euro zone trade surplus with the rest of the world was 18.4 billion in February after 28.7 billion in January as exports fell 2.5% on the month while imports rose 3.4%.

($1 = 0.8351 euros)

(Reporting by Jan Strupczewski; editing by Philip Blenkinsop)