Claim that EU membership boosts UK trade is decried as “a myth” by Think Tank

Union Flag pictured behind the flag of the European Union in London.

Union Flag pictured behind the flag of the European Union in London.

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CLAIMS tHAT membership of the European Union gives Britain additional clout in negotiating trade deals are a “myth”, a new report has claimed.

Far from opening up markets around the world to businesses from its 28 member-states, the EU has proved less successful than small states like Switzerland, Singapore, South Korea and Chile in forging free trade agreements, said the report published by thinktank Civitas.

Author Michael Burrage argued that British businesses have sacrificed many years of freer trade in exports of goods and services because of Britain’s membership of the EU.

Supporters of Britain’s continued membership of the EU in the upcoming referendum argue that it helps the UK win access to markets overseas. The Britain Stronger in Europe campaign argues that “negotiating as part of a 500 million-strong economy ... gives us clout we could never have on our own. Thanks to our membership of the European Union, we benefit from free trade agreements with 50 countries around the world”.

But the new report notes that the 55 countries with which the EU currently has a free trade agreement have a combined GDP of just £4.7 trillion and do not include economic giants like the US, China, Japan, India and Australia. A deal negotiated with Canada has not yet come into effect.

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