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British-Europe Trade After Brexit

Updated on April 16, 2018

Britain's Current Imports and Exports

In 2015, whilst a member of the European Union, Britain exported £133,831,907,353.00 worth of goods to EU countries and £171,239,147,976.00 to non-EU countries - a combined total of £305,071,055,329.00. In the same period, Britain also imported £220,149,955,910.00 worth of goods from EU countries and £192,058,774,831.00 from non-EU countries - a combined total of £412,208,730,741.00. Overall, in 2015, Britain was a consumer country, having a net trade balance of -£107,137,675,412.00.

Based on figures from 2016, Britain exported the fifth highest monetary amount of goods in the EU. Top of this list was Germany, who exported $1.341 trillion whilst Britain managed $411.5 billion. This figure places Britain behind France (2nd), Italy (3rd) and Netherlands (4th).

The total monetary value of all exports from the European Union in 2016 was $5.227 trillion, meaning that Britain made up 7.87% of total exports from the EU in this period. This percentage may seem low but there are 28 member countries of the European Union and if exports were distributed evenly, each country would be expected to contribute 3.57% of total exports from the EU annually. Therefore, Britain is currently contributing over 100% more exports than expected.

Another statistic that displays the magnitude of Britain's contribution to exports in the EU is the fact that, in 2016, there were 10 member countries of the European Union that represented less than 1.0% of total exports for that year. Also, Britain is 1 of only 8 countries, in 2016, that contributed a greater percentage of exports than would be expected if exports were distributed evenly amongst the 28 member countries.

In summary, the above statistics indicate that Britain is a very important consumer and distributor of goods within the European Union.

The EU flag flies at full mast in Brussels
The EU flag flies at full mast in Brussels

The Importance of Britain's Trade to the EU in Relation to Germany

Although there are many powerful nations in the EU, Germany is undoubtably at the forefront of trade and economics. Based on the 2016 statistics used earlier, Germany contributed over a quarter of all EU exports in that year. Britain's 7.9% contribution pales in comparison to this number.

In 2015, Germany was the largest trade partner of Britain, importing £30,381,714,408.00 worth of goods from Britain and exporting £60,859,846,783.00 worth of goods to Britain. This means that Britain, overall, was a consumer of German trade within this 12 month period.

German trade wasn't the only EU trade that Britain was a net consumer of in 2015. Other EU countries that shared Britain as a net consumer of trade in 2015 were: Netherlands, France, Belgium, Italy, Spain and Norway, as well as many more.

Although Germany was responsible for the largest value of exports in 2016, their statistic was an anomaly. In 2nd place was France with $488.9 billion worth of exports - $77.4 billion more than Britain, but a huge $852.1 billion less than Germany.

The average value of exports from EU members in 2016 was $186.7 billion. With the removal of Germany's anomalous figure, the average falls to $143.9 billion. This mean value of exports from EU countries in 2016 shows that Britain performed above average, making them a key trade member of the European Union in that year.

It is important to compare Britain to Germany because Germany is regarded as the leading member of the EU. However, since Germany performs at such high standards, in terms of trade, the statistics for other countries may be more accurately evaluated when Germany's figure is ignored, as above. It is clear that Britain's trade is important to the European Union, even when Germany's stats are not ignored.

The Port of Hamburg - Germany's largest port
The Port of Hamburg - Germany's largest port

Will Britain remain in the open market after leaving the European Union?

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British Passports to be Made in France Following Brexit

Overall, the response to the above headline has been dour in Britain. However, many aren't reading between the lines of this decision, which has seemed to cause moderate amounts of national outrage.

Priti Patel, former international development secretary, has called this decision a "national humiliation" and Bill Cash, a renowned eurosceptic, has commented saying that the commission of a French business for this purpose is "symbolically completely wrong".

I have to somewhat disagree with both of them.

Whilst Cash is half correct in what he says, I feel that he and Patel are failing to see the bigger picture. I agree that, symbolically, this decision is wrong and goes completely against what pro-leave supporters were sold during the campaign. However, what else does this choice tell us Brits?

Firstly, we must have some form of trade agreement following our departure from the EU. The fact that a French company will be manufacturing our passports post-Brexit suggests that, in some form, we will continue our free trade agreement with at least a selection of European countries.

Secondly, the Home Office has estimated that outsourcing this job to a foreign business will save taxpayers around £120 million over the 5 year period of the contract. With this being the case, it makes absolute sense to commission this work to a French Business as it allows the burden to be lifted from the British public. Why should we manufacture our own passports if it will invariably end up costing the working populace more money in taxes?

In my opinion, this piece of news should be looked upon as good news to pro-leave voters. Although the decision goes against the ideas behind the vote to leave, it tells us a lot about the open market and trade agreements following our exit from the European Union.

A return to the blue British passport will be seen as a symbol of regaining sovereignty by a lot of Brits
A return to the blue British passport will be seen as a symbol of regaining sovereignty by a lot of Brits

Conclusion

Personally, I see Britain as far too valuable to European countries, in terms of trade, for its exclusion from the open market. As covered above, Britain is responsible for huge amounts of imports and exports to the EU and is a net consumer of trade to a lot of these countries.

If Britain were to be removed from the open market, countries such as Germany, France and Netherlands would be desperate to set up trade agreements with us. Bearing this in mind, it would be ridiculous for the European Parliament to ostracise Britain as many European countries would be willing to enter negotiations with us for a new trade deal following Brexit. It would be a much simpler conclusion to allow Britain to remain in the open market.

For the simple fact that Britain contributes so much to trade in the EU and acts as a major consumer for a lot of powerful EU members, I cannot see Britain walking away from Brexit having been excluded from the open market and left without a trade deal.

Following Brexit, expect to see Britain's trade with European countries continue as normal.

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