BRITAIN has missed out on trillions of pounds worth of trade because of its membership of the EU, a report by a leading think tank claimed last night.
Analysis of the international economy over the last 50 years found that “independent” nations outside multi-national trade blocs were the most successful at agreeing free trade deals with other countries.
In one example, Switzerland had opened up trade markets worth £24trillion over the period compared with just £3.3trillion for the UK over the same period.
Report author Michael Burrage, a sociologist and university lecturer, said his analysis demolished the “myth” spread by Brussels supporters that British trade with the rest of the world would be damaged by withdrawal from the EU.
His report, “Myth and Paradox in the Single Market”, is published by Civitas, the Institute for the Study of Civil Society.
“By surrendering the right to conduct its own trade negotiations, the UK has sacrificed many years of freer trade for its exporters of both goods and services,” the report said.
Mr Burrage examined all trade deals agreed around the world since 1960.
He found that a number of small, independent countries that apparently had no “collective clout” were still successful in agreeing trade deals.
Chile, Korea, Singapore and Switzerland had all been more successful than the EU in agreeing trade deals with other countries, the report showed.
The report said: “This data gives no support to the view that small independent countries are less able to negotiate with large economic powers, or that the latter are less willing to negotiate with them, and no support either to the view that they will be slower in concluding such agreements.
“Those particular disadvantages for smaller, independent countries are clearly imaginary, and along with it surely the notion that the UK would be unable to negotiate agreements on its own.”
Since 1970, the EU had concluded 36 free trade agreements, the report found.
The aggregate GDP in 2015 of the 55 countries with an EU agreement in force in January 2015 was $6.7 trillion.
In contrast, the aggregate GDP of all the countries with which Chile had agreements in force was $58.3 trillion, Korea’s totalled $40.8 trillion, Singapore’s $38.7 trillion and Switzerland’s $39.8 trillion. The agreements of these four countries included their agreements with the EU, which has a GDP of $16.7 trillion.
About 90 per cent of the agreements of these four smaller, independent countries include services, whereas only 68 per cent of the EU’s trade agreements do so, an omission especially harmful to the UK, with its strong service sector.
The EU has therefore opened services markets of just $4.8 trillion to UK exporters, whereas the Swiss have opened markets of $35 trillion, the Singaporeans of $37.2 trillion, the Koreans of $40 trillion and Chileans of $55.4 trillion.