Express vastly overstates impact of UK trade deals

3 December 2021
What was claimed

Trade deals agreed with 70 countries are collectively worth £766 billion, a major boost to Britain’s economy.

Our verdict

This £766 billion figure refers to the total value of trade between the UK and countries it has agreed trade deals with—not the value that they add. Most of these deals were rolled over from when the UK was an EU member.

“‘Brexit Britain will be a leader in free trade!’ Joy as UK tears up barriers –£766BN boost”

The Express has reported that new trade deals struck by the UK are worth £766 billion to the economy.

This claim appears in the headline, and later in the article itself, which says: “Trade deals have been agreed with 70 countries, as well as the EU. These are collectively worth £766billion – a major boost to Britain’s economy.”

This seems to mean that the deals themselves will add a boost of £766 billion to the UK economy.

But this isn’t the case. £766 billion is the total value of the UK’s trade with the countries involved in 2020—not the additional value of the deals themselves, which will be much less.

How much are the new deals worth?

Many of these trade deals were already in place before Brexit and have effectively been rolled over. In October 2021, the BBC reported that the UK had negotiated rollover deals with 63 non-EU countries.

Since these “new” deals are virtually identical to the ones they replaced, they will make little if any difference to the value of trade between the UK and these countries.  

Some of the other deals may add value to the UK economy. 

The UK has agreed two new trade agreements in principle (with Australia and New Zealand) and signed a new deal with Japan which closely mirrors the EU-Japan trade deal but does include some substantive differences. 

The UK Trade Policy Observatory estimates that the Japan deal will result in no net gain compared to the EU-Japan deal. 

The government estimates that in the long term (meaning after about 15 years) the Australia and New Zealand deals will increase the size of the UK economy by between £200 million and £500 million per year

We took a stand for good information.

After we published this fact check, we contacted The Express to request a correction regarding this claim.

They amended the article and added a correction note.

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