The EU is insular; we need to build a global marketplace

The Remain campaign is based almost entirely on the benefits of the Single Market. As I have previously pointed out, remaining in the Single Market is likely to be central to Brexit transition management. So the only argument remainers have for sacrificing democracy is that we need to “have a say” on the rules. This is short sighted and unambitious.

Trade is increasingly being organised at a global level between international organisations ranging from private sector rulemaking bodies such as the ISO, to quasi-governmental institutions under the wing of the United Nations and the WTO. Together they form a rapidly evolving global rules based trading system in which the EU’s rules are subordinate. With a global regulatory regime emerging to harmonise standards, facilitate trade and thereby increase and spread prosperity, we are witnessing the construction of a global single market.

An independent Britain can develop links with emerging economies and pioneer the elimination of technical barriers to trade (TBT). It is TBT’s, not tariffs, which are hindering free trade.  When we leave the EU we can play an active part in kick starting the global trading system and reinvigorating global trade.

Remainers have repeatedly asserted that the global system has stalled but there are encouraging signs of progress. The 2013 WTO Bali trade facilitation agreement is of huge significance but it is little discussed in Britain because our Eurocentrism encourages a parochial outlook. Its potential for facilitating trade and increasing prosperity goes beyond any single trade agreement.

It aims to reduce red-tape and streamline customs procedures on a worldwide scale. The World Bank has stated that if all countries reduced supply chain barriers halfway to best practice, global GDP could increase by 4.7% or $2.6 trillion, potentially worth about $60 billion a year to the UK. World trade overall could increase by 14.5%, or $1.6 trillion, far outweighing the benefits from the elimination of import tariffs.

The global economy will be enhanced not through bilateralism but multilateral trade agreements and  the harmonisation of standards. For example, an agreement on a global tyre specification for passenger vehicles could save $40 billion a year. Standardising nomenclature for existing pharmaceutical products could save $20 billion. Adopting electronic documentation for the air cargo industry could yield $12 billion in annual savings and prevent 70-80% of paperwork-related delays.

This will not happen spontaneously. It will take a great deal of work, cooperation and leadership. It is in leadership of this global model that the EU fails. While the WTO agreement is a celebration of multilateralism in world trade, the EU obsession with regional trade agreements and advancing its political agenda is diverting attention away from an initiative of immense importance.

By forging ad hoc alliances and building a coalition of the willing the UK can help put the global interest back on the agenda. By breaking away from exclusionary and restrictive regional trade agreements we can instead give priority to multilateral trade facilitation which will have a galvanising effect on world trade.

This is the positive Brexit agenda. In a world that is increasingly global we  are surrendering our voice, veto and right of initiative on the world stage. With vast potential economic gains at stake from improved global trading we need to look out to the world and all the fantastic opportunities that a globalist outlook offers us. We need to take back control of our trade policy.

Britain can be a champion of free trade, intergovernmental cooperation and reform. We will gradually break away from the protectionist EU model and look beyond the limited bilateral model of trade and towards a multilateral strategy.

Ben is a political writer and Brexit campaigner with the Leave Alliance.  He blogs at The Sceptic Isle. Follow him on Twitter: @TheScepticIsle


  1. Well said.

    The key Remain argument is empty.

    If the EU is spiteful, and indeed blocks trade, to me that is final proof of the abusive relationship that it is, so leaving, however, painful, was right.

    If they are rational, and the UK can still participate in the EEA, then what does remaining in truly get the UK.

    As you say, very little, and in exchange for foregoing alot.

    The UK may have got alot of proposals through, but how many times did it block something it rejected? Answer that to find out what kind of voice one has.



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