Readers' letters: Post-Brexit trading decline is no surprise

Research from the London School of Economics highlighting the “steep decline” in the number of post-trading relationships with the EU post-Brexit is hardly a surprise.

In its report, it notes that the UK’s post-Brexit trade deal with the bloc has created red tape at the border, thereby curbing the ability of especially smaller firms to export.

It has seen the number of relationships between buyers and sellers tumble by a third after the introduction of the EU-UK trade deal in January 2021.

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This chimes with warnings from business groups that smaller firms have struggled to absorb customs controls, VAT and regulatory red tape, with many quitting exporting altogether.

The findings are yet another worrying sign of the negative impact that the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the UK and EU is having on UK exporters.

It is also even more damaging, as there is considerable evidence that future growth in trade comes from firms that are small today, and killing off those exporting relationships may lead to lower future British export growth.

Last month the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), the government spending watchdog, warned that UK trade had “missed out” on much of the recovery in global trade and was lagging all other G7 economies.

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The OBR estimates that total UK imports and exports will be 15 per cent lower over the medium term than if Britain had remained part of the EU.

The Brexit dividend we were promised is proving to be a total illusion, a massive con-trick perpetrated on the British people, but one which many of us repeatedly warned about.

Alex Orr, Edinburgh.

GERS numbers are a reliable assessment

Jack Fraser’s letter “Why the GERS figures are so misleading” (News, April 26) contains long-standing myths.

The Scot Government website states “GERS is produced by Scottish Government statisticians. It is designated as a National Statistics product, which means that it is produced independently of Scottish Ministers and has been assessed by the UK Statistics Authority as being produced in line with the code of practice for statistics. This means the statistics have been found to meet user needs, to be methodologically sound, explained well and produced free of political interference.”

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The GERS design is reviewed annually by SNP MSPs who have been producing their own design for next year’s statistics and have been doing this since elected to office in 2007.

So does he believe after 15 years of SNP-run government, it is itself deliberately publishing numbers to make Scotland look bad? Of course not.

The McCrone Report was never actively hidden. Gavin McCrone was a member of the Civil Service and his notes were written specifically as a briefing for new incoming Scottish Office Government ministers, not for the public and merely fell under the rule of the Civil Service 30-year code for all internal government documents of the time.

What the GERS numbers show is that if Scotland left the UK it would have a budget deficit of approx £10 billion caused by the loss of the fiscal transfer from Westminster.

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No-one has denied an independent Scotland could make different spending choices but those choices are slim and mean £10bn of independence austerity requiring either public service cuts or tax rises or both. What independence will never provide is a magic money tree.

Alex Latta, Bonnyrigg.

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