This article was originally published on the Conservative Online
The World market is calling for trade with an independent Britain, they realise they can’t afford to miss out.
The EU Referendum vote was fundamentally about identity. The Great British Public were tasked with asking themselves whether they were Little Europeans or Global Britons. Voters were clear, it is time for Britain to leave the shackles of the European Union and enter the world as a proud Global Nation. Trade will perhaps be the most significant part of this globalising process – but the hunger for it is not just felt by the 17.4 million Britons who voted to Get Britain Out, it is supported worldwide.
The share of Britain’s trade with the EU has been in perpetual decline, our exports with them compared to the rest of the world has decreased from 60% to 43% since the introduction of the Single Market. Even worse, Britain is effectively tethered to the trade policy of our masters in Brussels – with most deals heavily watered-down because every Member State must ratify them. While obviously Britain should seek to achieve a good trading relationship with the EU after we leave, we cannot accept a bad deal which would keep Great Britain resigned to membership of the protectionist Customs Union and its Common External Tariff.
There has never been a better time for Britain to revolutionise its trade policy than now. Brexit will allow us to free ourselves from the restraints of the Customs Union, so that we can sign free trade agreements (FTA) with the rest of the world – as many major countries across the globe are currently offering. Let’s not forget, the International Monetary Fund predicts over the next 10-15 years, 90% of global economic growth will be from outside the EU!
Those who wish to talk down the country will try to tell us Great Britain – the 5th largest economy in the world – cannot operate as an ordinary independent trading nation. If recent announcements are anything to go by, the world consensus is ‘Project Fear’ doomsayers are monstrously wrong.
It has recently been declared President Donald Trump is coming to Britain this summer to conduct trade talks on a ‘great’ mutually beneficial trade deal which he believes can be agreed ‘very, very quickly.’ This news is unsurprising considering the comments in January of the US Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, who made it clear Britain is at the ‘front of the queue’ for a trade deal. America covers almost a quarter of the world’s economy, and is already our largest trading partner and main destination to send and receive overseas investment. This represents a magnificent opportunity to enhance the special relationship which our nations share, one which many agree has been grossly neglected in recent years.
The Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, announced in April he wants a ‘seamless’ trade deal which ‘flips over the day after Brexit.’ Interestingly Trudeau has stated his genuine desire for a ‘more impactful’ trade deal with the UK than their current one with the EU – likely to be a commonly occurring theme as prospective trading partners realise Britain is able to be more nimble and versatile than Brussels. Canada is already a significant trading partner, having bought £7billion of British goods and services in 2015 alone.
In March the Australian Trade and Investment Minister, Steve Siobo, voiced his nation’s clear ambition to sign a FTA with Britain the day after the transition period ends. Malcolm Turbull, the Australian Prime Minister, echoed these sentiments in April when he said: ‘Brexit offers greater opportunities for Australia in the UK than ever.’ Turnbull was, like Trump, also keen to reiterate he desires a fair, open and mutually beneficial trading partnership for Britain – not the one-sided ultimatum ‘Project Fear’ would have us believe. Former Australian High Commissioner, Alexander Downer, rubbished claims a free trade deal has to be many years in the making, stating: ‘it would be easy.’
Switzerland, our 9th largest trading partner, is a further example. They recently announced the wish to ‘expand these rights and obligations if possible’ in relation to a FTA with Britain. The Swiss have set a great example as bastions of free trade as a European nation outside the European Union having agreed an FTA with China in the last few years.
The number of nations excited about the new opportunity Brexit represents for trade with the UK are numerous. The British economy is a massive draw for the world markets – for good reason. English is the global language of business; the integrity of our courts is unrivalled; our time zone is such that we can trade with the emerging economies in Asia in the morning, and North America in the afternoon. We already have deep ties with the Anglosphere, and the many nations of the Commonwealth – share the same common law system, monarch and many cultural values. Britain – the nation of shopkeepers – with our history as a global trading nation, is once again ready to enter the world once we Get Britain Out of the EU, ready to make new friends and reengage with old allies alike. A clean Brexit allows the people of this country to become Global Britons, not Little Europeans.
Joshua King is a Research Executive at cross-party, grassroots campaign Get Britain Out