It is said that half of Britain’s trade is with the EU – here’s Simon Jenkins in the Guardian.
Of course, he is………mistaken.
80% of Britain’s trade is domestic – only 20% of our trade is exports.
And of that 20%, about half admittedly goes through Rotterdam, which IS in the EU.
But of course, clearing goods through Rotterdam does not mean we are trading WITH the EU, just that we are trading VIA them.
So what percentage of our exports actually are WITH the EU?
About 40% it seems, and that figure is falling fast.
So 40% of 20% of our trade is actually WITH the EU – 8%.
“UK exports to the EU amount to around 8% of GDP “
Britain already imports and exports under WTO arrangements with the US – our biggest single-country trading partner, accounting for a fifth of UK exports. The US and China sell hundreds of billions of dollars of exports to the EU each year using WTO rules – the framework, in fact, for the majority of all trade across the globe.
For many years, Britain’s trade with the EU has been falling as a share of our total overseas commerce, and in deficit – despite the much-vaunted merits of the single market and customs union. Our non-EU trade, in contrast, generates a surplus – and having grown much faster than UK-EU trade for some time, it now accounts for a clear majority of British goods and services sold abroad. Such trade is conducted largely under WTO rules.
So when you hear “Half our trade is with the EU!”
But wait a moment.
If only 40% of our exports go to the EU, where do the other 60% go?
Well, to the rest of the world.
Many of whom have no actual trade deals with us, or even the EU – they buy our stuff on good old WTO terms.
It is reasonable to assume that if trade deals were done (like the recent one with Japan, which took about five minutes, in comparison to the average 90months (!) that the EU take – when half the people round the table are ex-communists, meetings obviously take forever) then these people might buy even more of our stuff.
And some people who currently can’t afford to buy our stuff, would suddenly find themselves able to do so, and would start.
So the whole Remainer argument about lost trade starts to sound a little mad – like civil servant claiming that because an inmate gets 8% of his meals from the prison kitchen, he must stay in prison lest he starve.
It’s not rocket science, but then it’s hard to get someone to admit something when their livelihood depends on them not admitting it (h/t Upton Sinclair)