Brussels (Brussels Morning) Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the EU’s agri-food trade grew 0.3% between January and October last year, compared to the same period in 2019, according to a just published DG Agri report.
Total agricultural and food exports grew 0.5%, to a value of 151.8 billion euro, while imports grew 0.1%, to 102 billion euro. The largest export growth during the period was recorded in trade with China, up 27% during the pandemic, an increase of 3.1 billion euro, mostly the result of strong growth in pork exports, which alone accounted for a 2.53 billion euro increase.
Trade with UK dropping
The EU27 also recorded significant growth in exports to Saudi Arabia (+21%), Algeria (+20%), Morocco (+27%) and Switzerland (+8%). During the same period, exports declined to the US (-4%), Singapore (-21%), Hong Kong (-13%), Japan (-5%) and Lebanon (-38%).
Even though the UK was still in transition phase prior to leaving the EU single market, exports to the UK dropped 2% or 546 million euro, the most seriously impacted products being wine (-9%), poultry (-15%), live animals (-38%) and butter (-35%). Imports from the UK dropped by 1.56 billion euro, or 11%, with the highest loss in value recorded for spirits and liqueurs (-22%).
Trade surplus growing
Other countries where imports significantly dropped included Ukraine, with a 775-million euro drop compared to the first ten months of 2019, mostly attributed to decreased maize imports, and the United States, with 663-million euro drop, mostly due to lowered imports of soybeans and oilcakes. Further drops were recorded in imports from India (-11%), Australia (-17%) and China (-4%).
The total agri-food trade surplus from January to October 2020 stood at 49 billion euro, a 1.3%- increase compared to the same period the previous year. The DG Agri report notes that the growth was mostly boosted by exceptionally strong pork and wheat exports, which offset decreasing exports of wine, spirits, raw hides and skins.