British companies found it increasingly difficult over the course of this year to trade with the European Union under the terms of the Brexit trade deal struck with the bloc, a survey showed on Thursday.

The British Chambers of Commerce said 45 per cent of companies surveyed in October found it very or relatively difficult to trade goods with the EU, up from 30 per cent in January when the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) came into effect.

For British exporting companies, the figure was 60 per cent.

“These data certainly do illustrate that the issues with the TCA are not ‘teething problems’ but more structural defects that, whilst fixable, if not attended to will lead to long term damage to our import and export sectors,” said Shevaun Haviland, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce.

The proportion of businesses reporting difficulty in trading services with the EU also increased, to 23 per cent from 14 per cent.

The survey findings chime with official data that show Britain’s exporters have struggled by international standards since the world’s No.5 economy left the EU’s economic system.

In October, Britain was the only country out of the Group of Seven whose goods exports had not recovered to their average level of 2018.

Supporters of Brexit say Britain will, in the long run, be better able to tap into faster-growing markets than when it was in the EU. Many economists are sceptical that this will make up for lost trade with the bloc.

The survey of around 1,000 businesses – with a heavy weighting of manufacturers at 41 per cent of respondents – was conducted between Oct. 7 and Oct. 31.