The EU does not take 50% of UK exports

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Roger Helmer’s latest e-bulletin explains how the pro-EU lobby are cherry picking the facts

On Friday 13th (I’m not superstitious) I went down to Wellington College, a very impressive Public School in Berkshire, to debate Brexit with none other than Vicky Pryce, former wife of Chris Huhne (who as Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change did more damage to the British economy in a couple of years than most people could do in a lifetime).

The debate was courteous but occasionally lively, not least when Ms. Pryce insisted that “50% of UK exports go to the EU”.

I have just received some briefing papers (attached to this newsletter as a pdf. file) from Global Britain, an excellent think tank that keeps tabs on the UK’s trade performance in the EU.  These briefing papers are based on the Treasury’s “Pink Book” published this month (please see attachment).  This shows that in fact the EU accounts for only around 43% of UK exports.  And these figures fail to account for “The Rotterdam Effect” – where goods for non-EU countries are shipped via Rotterdam (and other EU ports) for trans-shipment elsewhere.  This effect is difficult to quantify, but most commentators would agree that it is likely to be 3% or more.  So in fact the EU accounts for only 40% of UK exports – and declining.

To be fair to Ms. Pryce, who is an economist, she referred specifically to goods exports – taking the sector which looks most flattering to the europhile argument – and failing to mention the Rotterdam effect.  The Global Britain figures based on the Pink Book cover all trade and financial flows – and of course the UK does rather better in services than in manufactured goods.  So we certainly can’t accuse Ms. Pryce of lying.  But she was certainly misleading — quoting figures selectively to favour her position.

The take-away message for UKIP supporters – and all those who want to leave the EU – is that the EU accounts for significantly less than 50% of UK exports, and declining.  Of course that’s still an important chunk of our international trade – but there’s absolutely no reason to fear that that trade will decline following Brexit.  Roll on Independence Day!

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