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Civitas - EU share of UK exports is in dramatic decline, new analysis shows

Proportion of British trade with leading EU economies lower now than in 1973

Value of trade with Single Market founders has grown by just 2.5 per cent in 23 years.

In trade terms, the EU has ‘failed spectacularly’.,

The share of UK exports going to fellow Single Market countries has plummeted in the past decade and is now lower than it was when Britain joined the European Economic Community in 1973, a new Civitas analysis shows.

Since 2007, the share of the UK’s world exports going to the other 11 founder members of the Single Market has fallen from 68 per cent to just 36 per cent in 2015 – back to the level it was at in 1971.

This analysis of the latest OECD trade figures by Michael Burrage demonstrates that British exports to the rest of the world have grown faster and are increasingly more important to the UK economy than  those to the Single Market.

It is featured in his latest Civitas publication, The Eurosceptic’s Handbook, which is designed to arm voters with the facts they need – and which government and big business are failing to promote – to make a balanced judgement in the EU referendum.

In 50 chapters, it covers all aspects of the EU debate, ranging from the history of Britain’s membership and how the bloc is run to contemporary concerns about what the future might hold inside or outside the EU.

In an up-to-date analysis of the trade position between Britain and the EU, Burrage shows that the Single Market has ‘failed spectacularly’.

Overall, the real value of British goods exports to the 11 other founder members has grown by a mere 2.5 per cent over the 23 years of the Single Market – a compound annual growth rate of just 0.11 per cent.

The preceding decades ironically were ones of growth to the same nations, with the proportion of the UK goods exports going to the nations that would later form the Single Market hitting 48% in 1973. This share continued to increase rapidly over the years of Common Market membership, increasing to 64% in 1989.

The years of Single Market membership saw this proportion peak at 68% in 2004, a percentage matched again in 2007. Since then this proportion has slumped and stood at just 36% in 2015 – the same percentage as in 1971.

Burrage examines the growth in the real value of UK exports, compound annual growth rates and the share of the UK’s world goods exports to Europe to show that:

  • Over the thirteen pre-entry years the real value of UK exports to Europe grew by 131 per cent, the compound annual growth rate was 7.2 per cent and the share of the UK’s world good exports to Europe increased from 30.6 per cent to 41.8 per cent.
  • Over the two Common Market decades the real value of UK exports to these 11 countries grew by 136 per cent, the compound annual growth rate was 4.6 per cent and the share of the UK’s world goods exports to Europe increased from 48.1 per cent to 57.5 per cent.
  • Over the 23 years of the Single Market the real value of UK exports to these 11 countries grew by 2.5 per cent, the compound annual growth rate was 0.11 per cent and the share of the UK’s world goods exports to Europe fell from 56 per cent to 36.3 per cent.

Burrage writes: ‘By whatever of these three measures one prefers to use, the Single Market has been an era of decline, in which UK exports to fellow members of the Single Market have sharply decelerated. If one of the goals of the Single Market was to raise UK exports to fellow members it has failed spectacularly.

‘No serious attempt has been made to explain why this has happened, probably because, in the UK at least, the Single Market has been continuously sold as a success story, and even as the “Crown Jewel” of European integration, so no-one really wants to acknowledge that it has serious problems.’

Notes

The Eurosceptic’s Handbook: 50 live issues in the Brexit debate is published by the cross-party think tank Civitas on Tuesday May 31st. The analysis featured in this press release is at Chapter 17: ‘An overview of UK export growth since 1960’.

Michael Burrage is an academic by background. He was a Fulbright scholar at the University of Pennsylvania, and lectured at the London School of Economics for many years, specialising in cross-national analysis of industrial enterprise and professional institutions. He has spent spells as a research fellow at Harvard, at the Swedish Collegium of Advanced Study, Uppsala, at the Free University of Berlin and at the Center for Higher Education Studies and the Institute of Government of the University of California Berkeley. He has been British Council lecturer at the University of Pernambuco, Recife, Brazil, and also a visiting professor at Kyoto, Hokkaido, Kansai and Hosei universities in Japan.

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