EU snub: Why UK trade deals with other countries could boost north east manufacturing

Now that Brexit has happened, the UK is free to strike new deals for selling goods and services around the world. But the Prime Minister is still hoping to find a trade agreement with the EU to stop new tariffs and barriers coming into force when the transition period ends on December 31. John Elliott MBE, chairman of Ebac Ltd, a north east based manufacturer and the only factory in the UK to manufacture washing machines, believes Mr Johnson does not need to only follow EU rules. 

He blasted Remainers for getting their “project fear” wrong and implying that the UK would be forced to comply with EU standards only to benefit from cheaper trade.

He added businesses would still benefit from EU tariffs regardless of whether there were deals elsewhere. 

He used UK’s largest car factory Nissan, in Sunderland, as example of benefiting from a trade deal between the UK and the EU that leads to tariffs on car exports, as the Japanese carmaker would then focus on selling more cars in Britain.

He told “I think the whole mood of Brexit has changed and it is now seen as inevitable and normal with no more emotive talk such as crashing out or falling off cliffs. 

“Even the penny has dropped with Nissan which now realises that any tariffs on motor cars will benefit British manufacturers. 

“The facts are that we buy about 700,000 cars more than we make. If there are tariffs, homemade cars will be cheaper and therefore more attractive than cars made in Europe. 

“Other misinformation regarding standards will also prove to be nothing more than ‘project fear’. 

“Remain misinformation was stating that to supply to the EU, we would have to comply with EU standards. 

“This is, of course, true but it was also true when we were in the EU and is true wherever we trade in the world and has always been the case. 

“One of the biggest worries about recent events is the fact the hardcore Remainers that includes a lot of people in places of power got it so fundamentally wrong. What else are they getting wrong?” 

Earlier this week, Mr Johnson said he would prefer a deal similar to the EU-Canada trade agreement, but said if that did not work out then trade would have to be based on World Trade Organization rules. 

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said the EU is “all set” for trade talks with the UK. 

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But she added Mr Johnson would have to accept a “level playing field” on rules and standards. 

She said: “We will enter these negotiations with the highest ambition because good old friends like the UK and us shouldn’t settle for less.”  

The value of British goods sold to countries outside of the EU increased throughout 2019, according to Lloyds Bank Commercial Bank. 

While the EU was still the UK’s single largest trading partner, the value of British goods exported to the continent fell from £173.3 billion at the end of 2019 to £168.5 billion, according to the Lloyds Bank International Trade Index. 

Before this, the value of UK goods exported to the EU had grown consistently since 2016. 

And the figures showed that the UK sold £177.1 billion of goods to markets outside the EU in the year ending 2019, which was up from £170.9 billion in the same year. 

And the report also showed that over the last three years, UK exports to Asia and the USA have grown at a compounded rate of 11.3 percent and 7.7 percent respectively, while new exports orders to the EU grew by just 6.9 percent per year.     

Gwynne Master, managing director and global head of trade for Lloyds Bank Global Transaction Banking, told “It’s encouraging to see that UK exporters aren’t limiting themselves to markets close to home. 

“The fluctuating economic environment could prompt more businesses to take advantage of a diverse range of overseas markets, which in turn will hopefully enable increased sales and revenue for UK exporters. 

“Last year, tension between the world’s biggest economies undoubtably had an impact on global trade. 

“Productive talks and a new deal between China and the US signed last month could represent the start of this tension dissipating, creating further opportunities for UK exporters.” 


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