The strong performance of the EU’s pork and wheat exports helped to mitigate the trade challenges of Covid-19 and Brexit in the first four months of 2020. Between January and April, the value of EU27 agri-food exports totalled €61.9 billion (a rise of 4.8% compared to the same period in 2019), while the value of imports increased to €42.4 billion (a rise of 2.3%). The EU enjoyed an agri-food trade surplus of €19.5 billion during this period, an increase of 10% compared to the opening months of 2019. These are amongst the main findings contained in the monthly trade report for January-April 2020, published today by the European Commission.
An exceptionally high demand for pork drove a surge in the value of EU exports to China, which rose by €1.65 billion compared to January-April 2019. Wheat, offal meat, and infant food were amongst the other EU agri-food products in high demand.
Increases in the values of exports to Saudi Arabia and Morocco grew by €366 million and €308 million respectively, following strong demand for EU barley and wheat in both countries. The period of January to April also saw rises in the value of EU exports to Algeria (up by €273 million) and Japan (up €203 million). Falls, however, were recorded in EU export values to Hong Kong (down by €153 million) and Singapore (down €122 million).
The first four months of the Brexit transition period affected trade in a number of product areas, including wine, spirits and liqueurs, cigars and cigarettes, fruit and vegetable preparations, cheese, and chocolate and confectionary. Although the United Kingdom remained in the single market during these months, the total value of EU agri-food exports to the UK fell by €879 million, while imports from the UK fell by €576 million.
Declines were also noted in the value of the EU’s imports to Ukraine (which fell by €140 million), the USA (a drop of €207 million), and India (down by €121 million).
There were more positive developments in relation to Canada, where a growth of €426 million in the total value of agri-food products imports was driven by an increase in the EU’s intake of Canadian rapeseed and soya beans. In fact, Canada overtook the USA as the EU’s main source of soya beans during this period.
The EU’s demand for cocoa beans lead to a growth in the value of imports from Cote d’Ivoire (up by €285 million), while the demand for nuts and citrus fruits, fruit and vegetable preparations drove an increase of €275 million in the value of exports to Turkey.
The export values of a number of EU agri-food products grew significantly during this period. The largest increases were recorded for wheat (up by €1.25 billion), pig meat (a growth of €1.26 billion) and coarse grains (up €439 million). The value of wine, however, fell by €488 million, while spirits and liqueurs (down €466 million) and raw hides and skins (down by €284 million) also experienced declines.
The import value of fresh and dried tropical fruit experienced the largest growth when compared to January-April 2019, rising by €553 million. Additionally, the value of oilseeds (other than soya beans) rose by €370 million, while the value of palm and palm kernel oil grew by €316 million. Decreases, however, were noted in the import values of oil cakes (down by €237 million), coarse grains (a fall of €487 million), raw tobacco (a drop of €226 million).
Previous monthly data on EU agri-food imports and exports.
- Publication date
- 23 July 2020
- Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development