IN his letter to you (The Yorkshire Post, September 24) Peter Brown comments on our trade with the EU since Brexit.
Oddly, Mr. Brown chooses to use data from an EU source whereas I prefer to use official British sources such as the UK Trade Information website.
This shows that for 2020, the first full year since we finally broke free of the EU, our exports to the bloc fell by £24bn compared to 2019 but imports fell by £40bn. Naturally, if you leave a protectionist cartel like the EU, then trade with them will fall.
Imports would be expected to fall more than exports as manufacturing is re-shored and British firms work to recapture more of our own market from EU competitors. So far, it seems to be working well, though it must be said that the Covid pandemic may be distorting the picture.
What is clear is that our 45 years of full membership of the EU was, in common parlance, a rip-off. In that time, we paid a net membership fee of about £200bn and suffered a balance of trade loss of about £2 trillion.
What significant benefit did we receive for this colossal expenditure? I can think of none except, perhaps, an inner glow of satisfaction that, although we were weakened ourselves, we at least strengthened our European neighbours.
Mr Brown, it seems, would like us to re-join the EU, but I’m afraid he is in for a long wait. No major political party will want to open that can of worms in their manifesto for the next election.
From: Thomas W Jefferson, Batty Lane, Howden, Goole.
PETER Brown asks for the source of my claims that our exports to the EU are back to pre-Brexit levels.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that our exports to the EU in May and June were the highest since October 2019. They explain the discrepancy between their official data and the EU’s, quoted by Mr Brown, as being due to the EU’s “change in methodology on January 1 to no longer include goods shipped from Britain which originated further afield”. The ONS says it’s figures are more consistent when considering exports over time.
Although changes to export procedures are irksome to firms not used to them, they are unlikely to make us uncompetitive vis-a-vis the rest of the world who mostly use the same WTO-based system.
Nor should we forget that since the referendum our exchange rate has moved favourably for exporters, thus helping to offset their costs.
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