Blog: Don’t blame Brexit for trade troubles with Europe –

So, what impact might the new UK border checks have, when they are eventually introduced? There are four reasons to be relatively optimistic.

First, imports from the EU have already fallen sharply, suggesting that a lot of the adjustment to supply chains has already taken place, at least as much because of Covid as Brexit.

Second, there is an awful lot else going on, apart from Brexit, and any increase in trade frictions due to new UK border checks could be more than offset by an easing of these problems. A good example is the likely reduction in the shortage of HGV drivers as tests for newly qualified drivers are streamlined and more are attracted to work in the industry by higher pay.

Third, the delay to the introduction of UK border checks, while frustrating for many, will at least allow more time both for businesses and officials to prepare, technology to be improved, and so on, reducing the cost of the new checks.

The final point is the one made earlier about uncertainty. Once businesses know exactly what they have to deal with, they can adapt and adjust. This helps to explain why UK exports to the EU have recovered relatively quickly. It should help UK imports from the EU to recover too.

Julian Jessop is an independent ­economist. He tweets @julianhjessop

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