Scotland’s £ 9bn Brexit as UK suffers drop in exports since leaving EU

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The UK is the only country among its close European neighbors to have a negative trade balance on exports since the Brexit vote, new data has revealed.

Figures from the House of Commons Library show that the UK has seen a 5.5% drop in exports since the 2016 referendum, when the country voted to leave the European Union.

The SNP claimed statistics showed Brexit had already cost Scotland ‘billions of pounds’ and’ will continue to hit our economy, slashing Scotland’s GDP by up to £ 9 billion by now 2030 compared to EU membership ”.

Data shows that Ireland experienced the largest increase in its export trade balance of almost 50% from 2016 to 2021, while France recorded a surplus of 6.7% and Germany had a positive trade balance of 9.5% over the same period. .

When taking into account the impact of Covid-19 and the figures compared from 2020, the UK’s cumulative change of -19.3% is still the worst compared to 13 of its close European neighbors.

Of the top five countries that have maintained a positive trade balance since the EU referendum more than five years ago, three have a population size similar to or smaller than Scotland.

The top three countries that have maintained a positive export trade balance since the coronavirus outbreak are all similar in size to Scotland or smaller.

Data shows that in the first four months after the UK joined the European Economic Community in 1973, the forerunner of the European Union, the total value of the country’s goods exports increased by 16% per compared to the first four months of the previous year. .

In the first four months of 2021, the total value of UK goods exports fell by 11% compared to the first four months of 2020.

SNP MP Drew Hendry

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SNP trade spokesman Drew Hendry said: ‘Far from boosting trade – as Boris Johnson and company told us – Brexit has seen UK exports decline and its trade balance s ‘collapse at worst in northwestern Europe.

“Brexit, which Scotland did not vote for, has already cost our country billions of pounds – and analysis shows it will continue to hit our economy, reducing Scotland’s GDP until to £ 9 billion by 2030 compared to EU membership. ”

He added: “Scotland deserves better than this. Three of the top five countries that have maintained a positive trade balance since the EU referendum, and the top three since the coronavirus outbreak, are similar in size or smaller than Scotland.

“This is a glimpse of what Scotland could do and be if we had the full powers of independence.

“It is increasingly clear that independence is the only way to protect Scotland from the long-term damage of Boris Johnson’s tough Tory deal on Brexit.”

But Scottish Tories have warned the SNP has no authority over trade and economics, saying the party “is betting on Scotland’s economic recovery by making a deal with an anti-business and anti-employment party. “, the Scottish Greens.

Conservative Constitution spokesman Donald Cameron added: “These are absurd comments, given that the SNP still has no solutions on how it would deal with Scotland’s growing budget deficit.

HeraldScotland: International Monetary Fund figures for cumulative net change in annual percentage changes in the volume of exports of goods and services between 2016 and 2021International Monetary Fund figures for the cumulative net change in annual percentage changes in the volume of exports of goods and services between 2016 and 2021

“60% of our trade is with the rest of the UK and the SNP has no answer on how it would replace that or the half a million jobs that depend on it.

“This nationalist coalition and its extreme policies will only hurt Scotland’s ability to recover from the pandemic.”

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The SNP government has claimed that Scotland’s GDP could be 6% lower by 2030 than if the UK does not leave the EU.

An analysis released by the Scottish Government in June claimed that ‘overall merchandise trade in the UK has declined significantly, with total exports and imports dropping by £ 266.4 billion in the first four months of 2018 to £ 237.6 billion in the equivalent period in 2021 “.

The study added that “many Scottish companies have faced additional trade costs as a result of leaving the EU since the start of 2021”, noting that research “suggests that companies facing problems with export or import attribute the main cause of these difficulties to the end of the EU transition period and not the Covid-19 pandemic “.

He added: “According to HMRC, UK exports of food and live animals to the EU, which include seafood and fish, fell by 1.2 billion pounds (34%) over the course of of the first four months of 2021 compared to the equivalent period in 2018, with more stringent checks and certifications being one of the main reasons. ”

Economic experts from the Fraser of Allander Institute told the Herald that the new statistics show the UK has failed to see its exports recover from the pandemic, unlike its European and European neighbors.

Mairi Spowage, Deputy Director of the Fraser of Allander Institute, said: “In the statistics we can obviously see the rebound in other countries this year which is not happening overall for the UK.

“It’s quite difficult to say the impact at the moment because everything merges with Covid.

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“We saw stocks of goods before December, then disruptions in exported goods, but most of the time that has recovered. These are the services for which the demand in the economy is still low and we are still seeing services at a low level. ”

She added: ‘If we talk again about plans for an independent Scotland, one of the problems they will have to solve is that obviously the trade with the rest of the UK is three times the size of the UK. rest of the EU, at least that was the case. before the pandemic.

“So it will really depend on trade agreements in any independent Scotland.”

In 2020, the UK’s exports of goods and services totaled £ 574 billion and imports totaled £ 586 billion – while the EU accounted for 42% of the country’s exports and 50% of imports.

The UK generally imports more than it exports, which means it has a trade deficit.

A deficit of £ 119bn on trade in goods was partially offset by a surplus of £ 107bn on trade in services in 2020. The UK’s overall trade deficit was £ 12bn in 2020.

A UK government spokesperson said: “The pandemic and restrictions across Europe have affected trade and depressed demand, so it is too early to draw firm conclusions about the long-term impact of our news. trade relationship with the EU and the rest of the world.

“We have made deals with countries which account for 64% of UK trade – worth £ 744 billion – and we are pursuing ambitious trade deals with countries like Australia, Japan and New Zealand as well as the £ 9 trillion Indo-Pacific Free Trade Area.

“We are helping Scottish businesses seize fantastic opportunities through free trade agreements and lower trade barriers. Earlier this year, we secured a suspension of retaliatory US tariffs on Scotch whiskey, and thanks to our new trade deal with Australia, distillers will also see the 5% tariff cut. ”


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