North East exporters make their way through Covid

The North East was the only English region with a positive international trade balance in goods in 2020, though both exports and imports fell in all parts of the UK due to the Covid pandemic.

The North East exported goods worth £12.9bn and imported goods worth £11.5bn in 2020, according to figures published today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). This surplus of £1.4bn compares with a regional surplus of £1.5bn in 2019.

According to the ONS: ‘The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on trade can be seen across all nations and regions, which all measured a year-on-year decrease in total exports and total imports.’

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as the North East, also enjoyed positive trade balances in goods in 2020 but the South West, which had seen a surplus in 2019 recorded a deficit in 2020.

When trade in services such as finance and insurance is included, the North East was the only English region with a surplus apart from London and the South West. The region’s total positive balance increased between 2019 and 2020 from £2.7bn to £3.2bn.

After Northern Ireland, the North East had the second highest percentage of services exports to the EU, reflecting the high proportion of trade that Tees Valley and Durham exports to the Netherlands and Ireland, said the ONS.

Overall, the UK recorded a positive trade balance in goods and services of £6.3bn in 2020, with imports of £603.4bn and exports of £609.7bn. This compares with a deficit of £27.bn in 2019.