Whilst it’s rare to hear a pro-Brexit voice in business circles, it’s also rare to hear an analysis that looks to the future, not the past. It would be easy to say British exporters are performing better than before due to the weak pound but it’s just a symptom of the uncertainty that will prevail for the next few years. Long term I believe there’s a strong case for UK plc flourishing.
We need to look towards the future circumstances of the UK post-Brexit, rather than extrapolating previous performance and certainly without presuming the worst. If there happens to be no trade deal agreed by March 29 2019 the UK will benefit from Article 24 of the WTO’s GATT for a period of up to ten years whilst further negotiations take place.
Given that we effectively have at least a decade of free trade regardless of a trade deal, we can then look to the world outside of the EU.
We often forget the power of the UK – the world’s sixth largest economy. According to both HSBC and PwC, the top ten nations will be dominated largely by non-EU nations by 2050. Growth outside the EU will far outstrip growth within. “Made in UK” still has cachet outside the EU, evidenced by the brands I work with who are experiencing tremendous growth in regions such as Australia, Canada and China.
At present, the UK benefits from 40 EU trade deals with 70 third party countries, covering ten of the UK’s top 50 export markets, according to the House of Commons International Trade Committee report. Whilst trade deals cannot be signed until after Brexit, per this report the government has visited these 70 countries and none have objected to an effective replication of their EU agreement post-Brexit.
There are of course some problems in reaching a Brexit agreement. With pressure from Sinn Fein, which wants a united Ireland, and the EU, which desires a united Europe, the Northern Ireland border might prove troublesome. Likewise, the EU, noting the remainers’ noise in Britain, might be inclined to influence UK citizens by generating fear of travel restrictions. So, these may cause some issues to exporters – but there is a whole world out there to make further trade deals with. We won’t be subject to horrific tariffs based on Trump and Verhofstadt’s Twitter rows, nor the alleged removal based on Merkel’s fear of the impact on Germany’s car industry. Instead, we can put the debates behind us and look towards becoming a beacon of free trade. Globally.