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    Deep Brexit Divisions: Opponents Clash Over EU Trade Benefits

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    Two major campaign groups have clashed over the economic benefits of Britain’s membership of the union with one pro-EU report claiming significant economic gains while another think tank describing those claims as "myths".

    According to the campaign group 'Britain Stronger in Europe' (BSE), the EU’s single market benefits the UK economy, boosting UK trade, investment, incomes, employment and growth. One independent analysis showed that UK goods trade with the EU is 55 percent higher because of EU membership.

    BSE say the 'EU effect' amounted to £133bn in 2014, which is the equivalent to over £670k in extra trade on average for each business which exports or imports goods with the European Union.

    In its report, BSE states: "The single market is particularly important for Britain’s vital service sector, which makes up 78% of the UK economy. This is particularly true for the UK financial services sector". 

    "If the UK was outside the single market, UK-based financial services firms would lose the right to operate across the EU and would have to comply with the specific rules over which the UK would have no say." 

    Its report cites the Confederation of British Industry saying: "Access to a $16.6 trillion a year Single Market of 500 million people is the key benefit. UK firms’ access to the Single Market goes beyond a standard free-trade agreement. The EU has eliminated tariff barriers and customs procedures within its borders, and has taken strides towards removing non-tariff barriers – such as different product regulations – by enforcing EU-wide competition law and coordinating product regulations." 

    Economic Myths 

    However, a new report released by think tank Civitas, 'Myth and Paradox of the Single Market' by Michael Burrage, says that the trade benefits of EU membership have been mis-sold.

    Burrage says UK exports of goods to the other 11 founder members have been 22.3 percent lower, while to other OECD countries only 10.9 percent lower. 

    Exports of non-member Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries to the EU were just 2.05 percent lower, and have therefore performed almost as well as they did in the Common Market years. 

    "Thus the UK’s exports have grown and benefited least during the Single Market, while those of non-member OECD countries have grown and benefited most," he concludes. 

    "The main aim of governments has been to ensure that membership of the EU is seen as a prized asset, which the UK must not let slip from its grasp. This has resulted in a mis-selling of the trade benefits of the Single Market comparable in some respects to the mis-selling of payment protection insurance, though on a larger scale, over a longer period, and with far more serious consequences," his report says.

    "PPI offered borrowers protection that on closer inspection proved to be illusory, and at disproportionate cost. The evidence shows that the same might well be said of the Single Market."

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    financial cooperation, market, profits, business, imports, exports, sales, trade, money, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), European Union, Europe, United Kingdom
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