Two tweets from the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) seem designed to show how bright our trading future will be outside EU. They actually show how bright it is inside the EU.
The first says: “We have a long and successful history as a trading nation. We’ve seen steady growth in trade as a percentage of GDP in the post-war period.” The snag is that the share of trade barely rises until 1973 – when we joined the European Economic Community (now the EU). After that, as DExEU’s chart shows, trade really motored ahead. In other words, the EU has made the UK a more open economy.
The second tweet says: “The EU remains an important trading partner for the UK, but the importance of emerging markets has also been increasing over time.” Here’s DExEU’s graph, appropriately annotated:
Of the 20 fastest growing export destinations, five (Luxembourg, Croatia, Estonia, Malta and Bulgaria) are EU member states. One (Liechtenstein) is in the single market. Serbia and Montenegro does not exist anymore, but its successors have signed association agreements with the EU. So has Albania.
Chile, Morocco, South Korea, Mexico, Switzerland and Colombia all have trade agreements with the EU. Talks with Thailand were at an advanced stage, but will not continue until it elects a democratic government.
Of the remaining five, Brazil and Uruguay are part of a South American free trade bloc which is arranging a free trade area with the EU; talks between the EU and China on liberalising investment are underway; and negotiations with India are ongoing. That leaves Russia, which is on the West’s collective naughty steppes. Unless DExEU is suggesting we woo Vladimir Putin, its tweets show that the EU has done remarkably well in favouring British trade interests.
Edited by Hugo Dixon