Today, at a one day conference, we heard from a succesful businessman, whose company holds a Queen's Award for Exports. His business exports 90% of its production. He had a very interesting tale to tell.
The UK has a £40 billion trade deficit with the EU, whilst we have a trade SURPLUS with the USA.
For every £100 worth of goods we export to the EU we IMPORT £130 worth.
Norway and Switzerland export more to the EU than does the UK.
Mexico has a free trade agreement with the EU.
It is said that we export at least 50% to the EU. This is not true. That figure includes goods sent to Antwerp and Rotterdam and forward shipped to the rest of the world.
Why are we sending goods via Antwerp and Rotterdam?
a) because more ships go from those ports than from,say, Felixtowe. (Remember when London had the biggest European Freight Docks?)
b) (and here's the kicker) We import so much from, and export so little to the EU that lorries would be going back empty. Therefore they will accept any return freight they can find at minimal carrier prices. Therefore it makes sense to send goods, with end-users all over the world, via EU ports.
The "Common Market" was sold to us on the basis that it would create a "level playing field" and make us more competitive in European markets. - UNTRUE.
Our businessman received an order from a French company who wanted his product. So many obstacles were put in the way of the contract that, finally , it fell through. The French company still wanted the product and told our man that next time he would order from him, but they'd have to get the product built in Dubai.
In another case, the President of a friendly African state needed 12 schools constructed. Our man asked if the funds would be available to buy the construction materials from him. "Oh yes, the Norwegians have been. We'll get the funds now."
"How does that help?"
"Well, the EU sends 3 or 4 people here to do a report, it costs a couple of million and they go back to talk about it. The UN does the same, as does the US. We wait and hear nothing. Then the Norwegians come, spend a couple of weeks here, go back and a couple of weeks later they award us some funds. Then the others are ready to join in the project too."
The government says that businesses want the UK to stay in the EU. This may be true of the multinationals for whom intercontinental manoeuvring is necessary. Therefore the CBI is generally in favour of it. But they represent only 10% of our economy.
Ask the Federation of Small Businesses and the Institute of Directors and a different picture emerges. Remember, they represent 90% of our economy and, in most cases, have minimal contact with the EU since most of their business is domestic.
The old saw about all the jobs that would be lost.
The huge majority of lost jobs would be on the Continent since they export more to us than vice versa. No, the UK losses would be the gravy train jobs, quangos and the like.
Does anyone really believe the EU countries would embark on a trade war when it would be THEIR jobs on the line?
How about - "well we can work and live freely in EU countries now"?
There are 267,000 British people working in 26 EU countries.
There are 1.2 MILLION citizens from 26 EU countries working in the UK (and eligible for benefits).