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    Mind the Gap: UK Goods Trade With EU Widens as In-Out Vote Closes In

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    The gap between Britain and its biggest trading partner, the European Union, is widening. New figures reveal the UK is spending more than it is making through trade deals with EU.

    Data from the UK's Office for National Statistics reveals a deficit of US$11.6 billion (£8.1bn) in January 2016. This number rises to US$32.9 billion (£23bn) over the past three months.

    British exports to EU have been slowing since 2009, shrinking to US$46.5 billion (£32.7bn) at the beginning of the year bringing a US$14.7 billion (£10.3bn) gap between how much the UK makes from trading with the EU and how much it spends.

    The European Union remains Britain's biggest trading partner, accounting for 50 percent of all exports but with the EU membership referendum on the horizon, economist's eyes are on the money.

    Those in favor of leaving the EU are calling for the UK to focus on new markets. Meanwhile, those who want to remain within the bloc argue Britain benefits from being part of a bigger group on the global trading market.

    In the case of a so-called Brexit, the UK would have to renegotiate access to the EU's single market in exchange for obeying by its rules.

    Labour MP Chuka Umunna has told British media that the 'Leave' campaign was playing "fast and loose" with jobs that relied on EU exports.

    Meanwhile, London Mayor Boris Johnson has claimed leaving the EU would be "win-win for all of us." During a speech in Kent in south east England, Johnson said that the "only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

    But Catherine Mann, chief economist at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has issued a warning that a Brexit would be "bad for the UK, bad for Europe and bad for the global economy."

    "It will be faced with tariffs. Trade will be more costly. Divorce would take two years, and that's a long time for there to be uncertainty," Mann said.

    Twenty-three years after the European Union was formed and on the 23rd June 2016, people in Britain will decide whether they want to remain in — or out of the EU.      

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    Tags:
    goods, Brexit, deficit, EU membership, referendum, economy, trade, Office for National Statistics, European Union, Boris Johnson, Great Britain, Europe, United Kingdom
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