Are UK Exports Endangered By Brexit?

With the prospect of a possible exit of Britain from the European Union, could the UK’s export market be in danger? The UK is currently the eleventh biggest export market in the world and a recent report by WTex found that around 53.6 per cent of UK exports go to its trading partners on the European continent.

Could a Brexit damage the existing trading agreements with European countries and cause a decrease in the likes of air export and overseas shipping to the continent?

The problem with the Brexit campaign is that a clear-cut and comprehensive plan in the event of a Leave vote has yet to be fully thrashed out and explained to the public. This leaves a great deal of speculation and ambiguity to the prospect of the UK leaving the single market of the EU, which is then capitalised on by both sides of the campaign who make a range of spurious claims.

It is worth noting that exiting the European single market in which the UK currently resides does not necessarily prevent them participating in the European free trade zone that the likes of Switzerland and Iceland are part of.

This means that the UK may well still enjoy a good trade relationship with Europe and the export industry could maintain its strong European links. It is ultimately dependent on how EU countries decide to react to Britain’s exit from the EU, should it occur at all.

The UK also imports a great deal from the EU. Recently published data shows that the UK imports some £20.2 billion of good from the EU in March 2016 alone.

Therefore, one must question if a Brexit vote, however unlikely, would affect EU trade at all. It seems unlikely that the likes of Germany would cease to export BMWs and Mercedes cars to the UK, to their own detriment. Similarly, there is obviously an existing demand for the deluge of good that the UK exports and therefore it may not be in the interests of EU countries to cease this mutually beneficial exchange.

News and media outlets both remain constantly inundated with sensationalist arguments either way of the potential EU vote, some as fatuous as a possible £3 rise to the pack of cigarettes a Brexit might cause, as suggested by the Daily Mail. In truth, such reports are largely based on speculation and conjecture.

Ultimately, not even the experts really know how, if at all, UK trade or indeed any area of British society will be affected by Brexit. If it happens, which seems unlikely, only then will we truly know the outcomes of what would certainly be a monumental event.

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