EU chemicals exports, imports fall in January on renewed lockdowns, Brexit impact

Author: Jonathan Lopez


LONDON (ICIS)--Chemicals exports from EU countries to the rest of the world fell in January, in line with overall trade in goods which took a hit from renewed measures to slow down the spread of the pandemic, said Eurostat on Thursday.

Imports of chemicals into the EU took a hit of 16.5%, although the overall volumes of imports were around half of those in exports.

Eurostat also confirmed how the UK’s withdrawal from the EU’s Single Market on 1 January affected trade in goods between the two areas, in line with figures published by the UK’s national statistics body earlier this week.

The EU has traditionally been a net exporter of chemicals, with chemicals output in several countries within the bloc – notably Germany – being key in the global chemicals trade.

Several EU countries, including Germany or France, were in January under lockdown measures as the pandemic was spreading again; those lockdown measures remain in place, while as of this week Italy has also gone into stricter measures.

Chemicals output also took a hit in January across the 27-country, although overall industrial output managed to keep in the positive, said Eurostat earlier in March.

The fall in chemicals exports was the smallest among chemicals-intensive manufacturing sectors like machinery and vehicles production, which fell more than 12%.

The trade surplus for the EU's chemicals industry widened in January, to €17.1bn, as imports fell by a larger percentage than exports.

EU international trade in goods (in €/bn) Exports Jan 2021 Exports Jan 2020 Change Imports Jan 2021 Imports Jan 2020 Change
Chemicals 35.4 34.4 -2.8% 20.6 17.2 -16.5%
Machinery and vehicles 63.5 55.6 -12.4% 54.2 47.8 -11.8%
Other manufactured goods 37.4 32.9 -12.0% 42.3 36.0 -14.9%
Other 3.6 3.3 -8.3% 3.0 2.6 -13.3%
Total manufactured goods 136.3 122.8 -9.9% 117.1 101.0 -13.7%
Total EU (includes primary goods) 166.2 148.3 -10.8% 168.4 139.9 -16.9%

Eurostat also confirmed the sharp fall in UK-EU trade in goods as the Brexit trade deal kicked off on 1 January, mirroring statistics published by the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The sharp falls, however, should be taking with a pinch of salt, according to analysts, as one month would not be representative, especially as previous stocking and global logistics woes are taken into consideration.