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  • Writer's pictureMike Parker

New Year 2021 - An optimistic outlook for Independent Britain

It is not an exaggeration to say that today, the 1st of January 2021, is the beginning of a new chapter in our nation's history.


The Brexit Wars, as Nigel Farage calls them, are finally over. Some might argue that certainty of that outcome is the best thing about leaving with a deal. The threat of any serious campaign to rejoin the European Union has been neutralised. We can finally move on, stop talking arguing about the pros and cons of Brexit, and get on with rediscovering the opportunities our newfound independence gives us.


We are finally free, a feeling The Spectator captured so well in their 2016 magazine cover.

Source: "Out - and Into the World" article, The Spectator

We left the world behind in 1973 when our politicians decided that we should "self-isolate" in Europe. Finally we have the opportunity to revive our old friendships and make new ones with nation's around the world.

Trading with the World

The UK currently has trade agreements with 60 countries around the World, in addition to the 27 countries of the European Union.


More than half of the "rest of the world" countries, some 37 countries, are covered under agreements that the UK has completed with various trade blocs around the world.


Andean countries (3) - Columbia, Ecuador, Peru.


CARIFORUM trade bloc (13) - Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, St. Kitts and Nevis, Belize, Bahamas, Saint Lucia, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, The Republic of Guyana.


Central America (6) - Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama.


ESA trade bloc (3) - Mauritius, Seychelles, Zimbabwe.


Iceland and Norway agreement (2) - Iceland, Norway.


Pacific states (4) - Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands.


SACUM trade bloc (6) - Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa,


Additionally the UK has negotiated individual agreements with another 23 countries.


Individual agreements (23) - Cameroon, Chile, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Faroe Islands, Georgia, Israel, Japan, Kenya, Kosovo, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Moldova, Morocco, North Macedonia, Palestinian Authority, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, Vietnam.


Liz Truss MP, the UK's Secretary of State for International Trade, has been making all of us proud in her travels around the world signing trade agreements. The speed at which this has been achieved, to me represents the eagerness with which the rest of the world wants to trade with us.

The minister celebrated her incredible achievement with a Christmas tweet, showing the flags of all the nations the UK has concluded trade agreements with so far as Christmas decorations.

Since we left the EU with a deal, we can add on the EU's 27 member states.


EU Agreement (27) - Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia , Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden.


Economic recovery post Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic has hit economies across the world hard. Back in November, Statista were forecasting the UK's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to fall by 11.3% in 2020.

Source: Forecasted GDP growth UK 2020-2025, Statista.


Compared to the typical growth of 1.3%, the total fall, the damage to our economy if you like, is 12.6% this year. For the next two years, the Statista prediction was 5.5% growth in 2021, and 6.6% in 2022, or a total growth for the period of 1.055*1.066=1.125 or 12.5%. In terms of GDP at least, the damage to our economy from Covid-19 is expected to be reversed in 2 years.


This prediction was made prior to the agreement with the EU, when there was tangible uncertainty as to which way it would go and Government rhetoric about No Deal. If the prediction was updated today, they may be even more optimistic; although on the other hand we've had another wave of Covid-19 to contend with.


Whereas other nations around the World are continuing, more or less, with business as usual, the UK are entering 2021 with a host of new opportunities for growth due to all of the trade deals we have signed this year. This gives us a significant advantage when it comes to fuelling our economic recovery.

Trade and prosperity

Trade brings prosperity. With continued access to existing markets in the EU, and rapidly growing access to markets around the World, in the immediate aftermath of Brexit, I think we are in the best position that we could hope for economically. The new opportunities for growth will surely allow our economy to recover much faster than other nations in Europe and around the World.


From the rest of the worlds perspective, increased trade with the UK will bring opportunity and prosperity. Throughout our membership of the EU, poorer nations in Africa and the Middle-East, for instance, have been at a disadvantage when seeking to trade with companies in the UK, due to tariffs charged on their goods by the EU to protect European producers. Now we have left the EU and are signing free trade deals, they will have the opportunity to offer their products for less, increasing sales, allowing them to grow their businesses, hire more people, raise living standards, educate their kids and lift themselves out of poverty.


The diplomatic consequences of a more outward looking UK, trading and investing in nations around the World, are increased influence, peace and stability. The whole world will be a marginally better place.


Conclusion

Four and a half years after we voted to reclaim our independence, we have left the European Union. We didn't make a clean break as many Brexiteers wanted, we left with a deal, but that is not such a bad thing. In addition to all of the countries around the world we have signed trade deals with, we have the security of continued trade with EU countries with minimal disruption. Businesses on either side of the channel can be confident in continuing existing business, or pursing new business with companies in the UK. We've minimised the damage to existing trade.


However, free of the political limitations of the EU's single market, and having escaped the tariff protectionism of its customs union, we can finally get back out and into the world where we belong. The UK has trade deals with 60 non-EU countries already, and we've only just left. Liz Truss recently tweeted that next year she expects to conclude a trade agreement with the US, and that we will be signing up to the CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership), a trade agreement between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. Then there are the BRIC countries to pursue, Brazil, Russia, India and China.


With every new trade deal, the opportunity to increase prosperity here and around the world grows. We need to grab the opportunity with both hands. The future is what we make it.

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