Analysis of the latest monthly international trade statistics from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) for January 2023 reveals the value of the UK’s exports was the lowest of all the G7 nations. The UK’s exports were worth $38.28bn (£30.85bn), far below the next lowest, Canada’s $49.63bn.

The international delivery company ParcelHero says that the (seasonally adjusted) figures also highlight how weak the UK’s growth in the export of goods has been in recent years compared with the other G7 countries.

“Compared with the halcyon days of January 2019, our analysis reveals that UK goods exports have made the smallest recovery from the impact of Covid, Brexit and Putin’s war,” said ParcelHero’s head of consumer research, David Jinks.

Back in January 2019, UK goods exports were worth $37.44bn, not far behind this January’s $38.28bn. In contrast, Canada’s exports in January 2019 were worth just $34.8bn, compared with $49.63bn in January 2023, showing how rapidly its trade has increased over this period. The US’s goods exports totalled $137.13bn in January 2019 and $177.55bn in January 2023. Only Japan has struggled to anything like the same extent as the UK, but even its exports fared better in January.

“The new OECD figures also show the value of UK goods imports, compared with the rest of the G7,” said Jinks. “Here, the UK holds up rather better. In January 2023, we imported $61.24bn-worth of goods; that is more than Italy’s $56.26bn. It is also more than the $59.93bn we imported in 2019.”

The downside to this is that the UK’s net trade in goods was -$22.96bn for January 2023. Only the US has a bigger deficit at -$91.09bn. France has the next largest January net trade deficit at -$15.56bn.

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“Clearly, the UK’s exports continue to struggle more than those of its G7 competitors,” said Jinks. “It is vital that the UK continues to rebuild its relationship with the EU.”

With the Windsor Framework agreed, further negotiations can take place to ease more of the checks and red tape on UK trade with the EU, which were imposed in the aftermath of Brexit. For a closer look at how Brexit has damaged the UK’s economy, especially its environment for inbound foreign investment, read Investment Monitor’s snapshot

“Both importers and exporters can also maximise their profits by rethinking how they prepare items for transportation,” explained Jinks. “By using too much packaging, they could be running up unnecessary charges. That is because international carriers use a measurement called ‘volumetric weight’ to calculate the size of a package. It measures the space a package takes, as well as its actual weight.”