Exports to Russia fell to 18-year low in April as sanctions hit

Fuel exports to Europe also rose during the month, according to official data.

Trade to the EU soared thanks to liquid natural gas transiting through the UK. (Gareth Fuller/PA)
Trade to the EU soared thanks to liquid natural gas transiting through the UK. (Gareth Fuller/PA)

The value of the imports that the UK bought from Russia hit its lowest point in more than 18 years in April as sanctions bit.

Data from the Office for National Statistics show a massive drop in Russian imports between the start of the year and after the Kremlin launched a full-scale attack on Ukraine.

Imports from Russia reached a record high in December and again in January ahead of the war.

In February, the month the attack started, they fell slightly but remained among the biggest months since records began in 1997 at £1.8 billion.

But by March imports dropped to £545 million and as sanctions bit they dropped even further to £244 million a month later, the most recent data from the ONS show.

Jack Sirett, head of dealing at financial services firm Ebury, said that exports to the country had also fallen, from £268 million in February to £38 million in April.

Meanwhile trade with Europe also soared, largely because of the high prices for gas.

The UK has several gas terminals where ships from the US or the Middle East can offload their liquid natural gas (LNG) cargoes.

A lot of this is then directly exported by pipes that connect to Europe, making the UK a transit hub.

As Europe tries to limit the amount of Russian gas it consumes, it is turning more and more to this shipped gas.

As a result, the UK’s exports to the EU rose by £1.2 billion in April compared to the month before. This is an 8.1% rise.

The ONS said that half a billion pounds of the increase was due to the export in fuels, mainly to the Netherlands and Ireland.

Exports to non-EU countries increased by 6.5%.

“The data shows that goods exports to the EU reached their highest ever level due to rising exports of fuels as it continues to import substantial quantities of LNG, while the ongoing war in Ukraine drove exports to Russia to their lowest level since 1999,” Mr Sirett said.

“Despite the record EU trading figures, exporters continue to experience difficulties with the bloc following the end of the Brexit transition period.”

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