Government hits back at the 68% haulage reduction into the EU claim saying they “do not recognise” figures published by the Road Haulage Association.

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The government responds to the Road Haulage Association’s claims that trade going into the EU for Britain fell by 68%.

The Chancellor of the Dutchy of Lancaster slapped down the claims saying “We do not recognise” these figures.

A press release published on the government’s website this morning responded to the claims made in the observer.

The two prominent claims and counterclaims are set out below.


According to a RHA survey “Exports going through British ports to the EU fell by 68% last month compared with January last year” (Observer, 07/02/21)


We do not recognise this figure and further details from the survey have not been shared.

Flows are monitored on a daily basis by the Border Operations Centre. In the last full week (30 Jan to 5 Feb) both outbound and inbound flows (across all UK ports) were close to normal, at 95% outbound and 96% inbound, in spite of the impact of COVID lockdowns on trade.

For the same week, flows outbound specifically across the Short Straits were at 82%.

The Port of Dover’s own data confirms that volumes are close to normal.


Richard Burnett, Chief Executive of the RHA “told the Observer that in addition to the 68% fall-off in exports, about 65%-75% of vehicles that had come over from the EU were going back empty” (Observer, 07/02/21)


This does not reflect the data from our French counterparts, which puts the figure at closer to 50%.

It is an entirely normal part of freight flows to have empty lorries on the outbound leg from the UK into the EU – this has always been the case.

Indeed, estimates suggest that prior to 1 January, around 30% of all outbound lorries were empty.

Taking the impact of Covid-19 on economic activity into account, the current levels are not surprising when compared to normal outbound flows.

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