“Some argue that we could strike a good deal quickly with the EU because they want to keep access to our market. But the Government’s judgement is that it would be much harder than that—less than 8% of EU exports come to the UK while 44% of UK exports to go the EU.”
Whether the 8% is correct depends on how you treat exports from the EU. Looked at another way, you can get 17%.
Either way the data is quite unreliable, and can change depending on whether you look at which countries in the EU say they export to the UK, and what the UK says it imports from other countries in the EU.
The UK is estimated to make up just under 8% of total EU exports in 2014, according to Eurostat data. That treats the UK as being outside of the EU, and includes exports between EU member states.
If you treat the EU minus the UK as one block and look at who it exports to, the UK takes a 17% share of exports, compared to 83% to the world outside the EU.
About 44% of UK exports in goods and services went to other countries in the EU in 2014.
That share has been declining, as exports to other countries have been increasing at a faster rate.
It’s sometimes argued that these statistics overstate the proportion of UK exports that go to the EU, as a lot of goods pass through ports like Rotterdam before being shipped to a final destination outside the EU.
Both the Office for National Statistics and the government's review of our EU membership have concluded that it's hard to quantify the extent of this ‘Rotterdam effect’ or establish whether it's a serious problem for the statistics.
It’s not clear what would happen to this trade if the UK votes to leave the EU. If the UK leaves the EU, the future rules on trade would depend on what kind of agreement, if any, the UK reaches with the EU after its departure.
Full Fact wants to see greater accountability for public figures who mislead us—and we need your help.
Political debate in the UK is in flux right now. The UK’s exit from the European Union is approaching, we will soon have a new prime minister and potentially a general election.
We want politicians to tell the truth, and while the best politicians realise that their work should be done honestly, some aren't taking their responsibilities seriously. Both sides in the EU referendum campaign let voters down, from deceptively designed leaflets to some of the arguments made on each side. The public rightly expects more from politicians.
We want to see greater accountability for public figures who mislead. Full Fact will continue to advocate for higher standards and call out those who don't uphold them.
But we rely on the generosity of our supporters to make sure we can spot the most harmful misinformation when we most need to.
Can you help us?
Support better public debate today.