The UK does not need to be worried about leaving the European Union and doing international business on terms laid down by the World Trade Organisation, says William Dartmouth.
The MEP for the South West and Gibraltar has written a booklet claiming we will not lose out if we left the EU without a deal but move ‘into a new world of opportunity’.
Quoting sources from our Parliament, Lord Dartmouth points out that in 2017 the UK exported £274billion-worth of goods to the EU while importing £341billion-worth from the bloc and rhetorically asks: “What happens to these exports as we leave the EU?” He answers his own question. “The facts are very clear: the trade will continue.” The booklet is designed to dispel the lies surrounding our withdrawal.
We need to be in the EU to access the single market. Not true.
The first falsehood to be refuted is the claim that we need to be in the EU to access the bloc’s single market. Not true, he says, listing 20 countries which trade freely with the EU, both importing and exporting. At the top of the list is the USA, which has total trade of €632.5million, followed by China at €573million. In Europe, Switzerland comes third with more than €260million-worth of trade.
Quoting the CIA World Factbook, Dartmouth claims that in 2017 the total of trade between the EU and non-EU countries was €2,890billion – more than the whole economy of France (€2,514billion) or the UK (€2,574billion).
He says: “The figures are from the EU itself – from Eurostat. They are, as it were, the very tablets from Mount Saini. They show the sheer value of the trade between countries outside the EU and the EU. All these countries have access to the EU’s Single Market.”
Dartmouth goes on to quote exports to the EU which generate huge revenues for non-member states. “In 2017, China alone exported goods to the EU worth €375billion,” says the booklet. “China is not in the EU but China has access to the EU Single Market.”
The European Commission’s own figures show that exports worth billions of euros were made to the EU from China, the USA, Russia and other countries outside the bloc.
“The fact that these countries are not part of the EU does not restrict this trade,” he says. “In fact, it empowers them to trade with the world on their own terms.”
You have to be a member of the EU in order to export successfully to the EU. Not true.
The second falsehood is that countries have to be members of the EU If they want to export to the EU. “The EU has numerous varieties of trade arrangements – being an EU member is just one of them,” says the booklet.
He explained that Switzerland was not an EU member state. Its economy is about one quarter the size of the UK’s but it exports to the EU around four and a half times as much per head of population as the UK exports.
In a table, Dartmouth says that according to the Treasury’s ‘Pink Book’, which contains the UK’s balance of payments and detailed statistics of trade in goods and services, our country’s cumulative trade deficit with the UK since 1973 is over €683billion.
He points out that the UK is a member state of the EU whereas Switzerland is not in the EU. “After the UK exits the EU, trade will continue,” he says. “No trade agreement; no problem.”
Demonstrating this point, he lists the six biggest non-EU countries with which the EU does not have a trade agreement. In 2017, China exported goods worth more than €375billion to the EU, the US’s total was €256.1billion and Russia exported €145bn-worth of goods to the EU. None of these countries has a trade agreement with the EU. The UK exported £274billion worth of goods to the EU.
Dartmouth explains that because of declining tariffs there has never been a better time for international trade, with or without an agreement. He includes a graph showing the fall in global tariffs since 1988. Around the turn of the millennium, some of China’s tariffs were as high as 25% and India’s weren’t much lower.
But according to the World Bank, many tariffs have come down over the years and most are now in single figures, with countries like Russia, China and Brazil being less than five percent. When we leave the EU and do business under WTO rules, the UK will get low or zero tariffs on most of its exports, including to the EU, just as, for example, China does today.
The UK would be isolated. Not true.
The third falsehood to be explored by William Dartmouth is the claim that the UK would be isolated. He says: “Britain was a leader in international trade for centuries, long before the EU was even thought of. As an EU member state, the UK cannot now trade on our own terms with the rest of the world. Decisions are made for us, based on the interests of the EU 28 – not the UK.
“Today, the UK is still a member in its own right of over 100 international organisations, including a permanent seat on the UK Security Council, the G7, the G20 and many more. These memberships and affiliations give us influence around the world.
“Leaving the EU, we could immediately reactivate our existing seat at the World Trade Organisation. EU membership threatens these other memberships. It denies us the freedom to trade internationally onour own terms.
Contrary to what we are frequently told, the EU tends to isolate us from the world. This is because it deliberately blocks the UK having its own relationships.”
A UK-EU trade agreement will inevitably require ‘free movement of people’. Not true.
The fourth falsehood is that a UK-EU trade agreement must include free movement of people. Dartmouth explains that in fact, the EU has, depending on how it is counted, 140 trade agreements with countries outside the EU. Over 100 have no ‘free movement of people’ clause. One example, the proposed and controversial EU-Canada Trade Agreement (known as CETA) has NO free movement clause.
“Why do so many want to mislead us?” he asks. “There are over 100 precedents in place,” says Dartmouth. “The EU constantly enters into trade agreements without any obligation for the ‘free movement of people’.”
Dartmouth concludes his booklet by offering three truths about trade. Firstly we will be able to negotiate and maintain lucrative trade agreements. “Countries like Switzerland thrive, in part, because they can negotiate their own agreements with other countries,” he explains. “The fact they are not part of a large trading bloc is not a limitation – far from it. It allows them to negotiate in their own interests.”
Secondly, we will continue to trade with EU member states. “The UK is the largest importer of EU goods and services,” he says. “This gives us a very strong hand in any trade negotiation with the EU. And – with or without a trade agreement – we can continue to trade with EU countries.”
And thirdly, we will regain our ability to act in our own interest. “Through the World Trade Organisation and other memberships, we can represent ourselves,” he states. “Our decisions can be based on what works for the United Kingdom, not the different priorities and varying self-interests of 28 different countries.”
These, he says, are the realities of an EU exit for the UK.
William, the 10th Earl of Dartmouth, sits as an independent member of the European parliament following his resignation from UKIP last year, where he was the party’s trade spokesman. His booklet can be found here.