BORIS Johnson's Brexit deal has caused “untold misery” to business in the UK, the SNP have said after a new study showed UK trade with the EU has plummeted.

The research, by the Centre for Economic Performance (CEP) at the London School of Economics and Political Science, found imports have fallen by 25% relative to those from elsewhere in the year since the agreement with the EU was finalised. 

Exports to the bloc were not as badly affected, but there was a decline relative to the rest of the world, the analysis found.

Overall, small businesses were hit hardest, with many ceasing European trade. One of the report’s authors also dismissed claims from Downing Street that the Tory government is helping businesses “seize new opportunities” post-Brexit and facilitating trade with Europe.

Drew Hendry, SNP international trade spokesperson at Westminster, said: “With each passing week, we see new figures that highlight the devastating impact Brexit is having on businesses across all four nations of the UK. Ever since Boris Johnson signed his botched Brexit agreement, businesses have faced unnecessary red tape, dodgy trade deals, skyrocketing tariffs, and untold misery.

“This was something Scotland did not vote for, and something Scotland will not continue to settle for.

“However, for as long as Scotland leaves its key trading tools in the hands of Westminster, it will always be vulnerable. Only with independence can Scotland finally rid itself of this corrupt, outdated Westminster mismanagement, take matters into its own hands, and finally regain its EU membership.

“There can be no doubt that Boris Johnson is failing families and businesses across the four nations.”

READ MORE: Scots 'more worried about Brexit impact than English counterparts', report says

The CEP says it is the most comprehensive study yet into the effects of Brexit on trade between the UK and EU.

It found trade between the UK and EU held stable after the 2016 Brexit referendum until the end of 2020, and there was no evidence that uncertainty and anticipation effects led to a significant decline in relative trade in that period.

But a “substantial reorientation” occurred after the introduction of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) at the start of 2021, it says.

“The number of export relationships with the EU fell sharply in 2021,” Rebecca Freeman, co-author of the report and associate of the CEP’s trade programme, said.

Analysis of changes in trade patterns for 1200 products found a “sharp drop” in the number of trade relationships between UK exporters and EU importers, with “lower value relationships” hit particularly hard, according to the researchers.

CEP said the finding is consistent with claims that the trading agreement has caused many smaller UK firms to stop exporting to the EU.

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“The drop in the number of products the UK exported to its smallest European partners following the introduction of the TCA is remarkable," co-author and PhD student at the University of Cambridge, Thomas Prayer, said.

“It appears the UK simply stopped selling a lot of products to smaller countries in the EU.

“The UK’s departure from the EU’s single market and customs union at the start of 2021 caused a major shock to UK-EU trade."

The paper says: “We estimate that the new TCA trade relationship led to a sudden and persistent 25% fall in relative UK imports from the EU."

It adds: “In contrast, we find a smaller and only temporary decline in relative UK exports to the EU, but nevertheless a large and sustained drop in the extensive margin of exports, driven by the exit of low-value relationships.”

READ MORE: 'We can't find any': Scots industry chief rubbishes 'Brexit opportunities' claim

Thomas Sampson, another co-author and associate professor of economics at LSE, said: “The Trade and Cooperation Agreement has increased trade costs, leading to a fall in imports from the EU and reducing the number of products exported to the EU by UK traders. These changes make the UK a harder place to do business.”

Co-author and professor of economics at UCL, Kalina Manova, added: “These findings suggest that UK firms did not rush to adjust their trade activity following the referendum, despite dramatically heightened uncertainty about the future UK-EU trade relationship.

“Once effective trade costs did rise, however, they started to quickly reorganise their global input sourcing away from the EU while seemingly more gradually adjusting their export sales.”

The research paper, entitled Unravelling Deep Integration: UK Trade In The Wake Of Brexit, analyses the first year of trade under the agreement and does not capture long-term effects.

A UK Government spokesman said: “Through our Export Support Service, expanded export academies and a landmark export strategy, we are ensuring that businesses of all sizes have the support they need to trade effectively with Europe and seize new opportunities as we strike trade deals around the world.”

However, those comments were questioned by one of the report’s authors.

Asked if the research backs that statement up, Sampson told BBC Good Morning Scotland: “Not really. I think the TCA is undoubtedly an increase in costs for businesses and any increase in costs hits smaller firms harder. The Government is trying to support those businesses but whatever it does isn’t going to offset the fact that we’re no longer single market and customs union and that makes trade harder.”