UK’s trade with the EU

As the debate around the UK’s membership in the EU grows, an argument often used by the pro-Brexit side is that the EU will pursue a very pro-trade policy post-Brexit given that the EU exports more to the the UK than vice-versa, an thus, it’s in the rEU’s interest to give the UK a very generous trade agreement.

The counter-argument to this is that while the EU does indeed export more, its exports of goods to the UK represent only 15% of all exports, while the UK’s exports to the Union comprise 48% of its exports, a much bigger share, thus making the UK much more vulnerable in the case of a Brexit, given that it would be in rEU’s self interest to play hard-ball with the UK, in order to discourage its own disintegration.

The following 2 charts aim to visualize the above. The first chart compares trade in goods (for 2014) and services (for 2013) and the second one compares only the trade in goods, with the additional perspective of the intra-rEU trade between states.

Chart 1. Exports of goods and services of the rEU and UK


Chart 2. Exports of goods of the rEU and UK


Data from Eurostat. Made in Inkscape.

One thought on “UK’s trade with the EU”

  1. If markets mattered more than products – whcih they do (especially that of the UK, a nice niche market with a lot of high-income consumers), then Brexit makes no sense for EU (especially for EU boss Germany), but it does for Britain. This could be useful here: + UK Exports to Germnay total $46.6B, most of which are inputs for the German tech industry + Oil. The flow in the other direction, e.g. british imports from Germany are mostly cars and medicaments – and the Germans need that nice market…


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