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What the CBI forgot to tell its members


  • While we have spoken strongly and confidently in favour of the Commission’s role of negotiating FTAs on the UK’s behalf, we have never conducted any studies to determine how effective these European Commission agreements have been for you if you happen to be an exporter.
  • EU ‘clout’, which we rate highly, has thus far only been used in negotiations with small economies. The sum total of the GDP of all the other countries with which the EU has concluded FTAs since 1973 ($6.5tn) is only slightly greater than the combined GDPs of Japan and Australia ($6.04tn). The EU has not yet reached an agreement with either of these two countries.
  • FTAs negotiated by small independent countries with no ‘clout’ are somehow more likely to be with large economies like China, Japan, India and the United States. Surrendering powers to the EU has therefore meant the loss of many years of freer UK trade with these large economies.
  • FTAs negotiated by small independent countries without ‘clout’ are much more likely to include services.
  • The EU has failed over the past 40 years to conclude agreements which have come into force with some Commonwealth countries: Canada, Australia, India, New Zealand, Malaysia, and Singapore.
  • Trade has not been the sole, nor even the primary concern, in many European Commission trade negotiations. Instead, many have involved a broad range of issues such as climate change, environmental protection, gender issues and human rights, which you may or may not think appropriate for trade agreements.
  • Of the 14 countries with which the European Commission has concluded agreements which are now in force, and which can be evaluated with sufficient pre- and post-agreement data, the growth of UK exports has increased in only four: Korea, Chile, Lebanon, and Papua New Guinea.
  • Significantly higher proportions of the trade agreements concluded by Switzerland, Singapore and Korea have been followed by increases in the growth of their exports: 10 out of 14 (Switzerland), 8 out of 12 (Singapore) and 4 out of 5 (Korea).
  • Having decided that the trading arrangements Switzerland, Norway and Turkey have concluded with the EU were not suitable for the UK, we forget to mention that the growth of goods exports of all three to the EU have grown at a faster rate over the life of the single market than those of the UK. The same applies to services exports of Switzerland and Turkey.
  • Goods exports of 14 non-member countries to the EU have grown at a faster rate than those of the UK, as have the services exports of 15 non-member countries. We may have overstated the disadvantages of non-membership. In fact, these non-members seem to have been the main beneficiaries of the single market.
  • A comparison of the growth rates of services exports of 23 non-member countries to EU members with those of 24 member countries to other members shows there is no difference between them.
  • There is little proof that the single market in services, which we have often mentioned to you, actually exists.
  • Unemployment rates of EU member countries have been higher than those of other countries throughout the life of the single market. Productivity growth has also been lower, so we may have overstated the advantages of membership.

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