Britain's trade options after Brexit: no easy way out

Mon Jun 13, 2016 11:14am EDT
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By William Schomberg

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's status as a trade power has become one of the most contentious issues in the European Union membership referendum on June 23.

The uncertain outlook for exporters, and the implications for investment in Britain, are driving much of the nervousness in financial markets where the pound has weakened sharply.

"In" campaigners, led by Prime Minister David Cameron, warn that Britain's economy would suffer if it lost its unfettered access to the EU's single market of over 500 million consumers.

Britain would lack negotiating muscle for any new deal, they say, because 44 percent of its exports go to the EU compared with 8 percent of the EU's exports that go to Britain.

On its own, Britain would also struggle to secure deals with non-EU countries, the "In" camp says.

By contrast, "Out" campaigners say the EU would do a deal with Britain because of its importance as an export market.

It also says Britain would strike deals with other nations, such as the United States and China, more quickly than the EU with its 28 member countries and their different priorities.

Below is a summary of the various trade options for Britain in the event of a so-called Brexit.   Continued...

Illustration picture of postal ballot papers June 1, 2016 ahead of the June 23 BREXIT referendum when voters will decide whether Britain will remain in the European Union.   REUTERS/Russell Boyce/Illustration/File Photo