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Services exports to the EU and other markets

‘Our participation in the Single Market, and our ability to help set its rules, is the principal reason for our membership of the EU.’ – David Cameron, 23 January 2013

Given that many EU enthusiasts devoutly believe that there is a Single Market in services, and the existing data suggests that it does not exist, the latest published data on UK services exports is obviously of particular interest. Maybe, it has suddenly sprung to life.

Alas, the data is infuriatingly slow to appear. As of January 17th 2016, OECD still only has a complete set of UK exports to fellow OECD members for 2012. They have been used in the graph below to compare the growth, which is reported in current value US dollars, of UK exports to the EU 14 as in 2000 with UK exports to the rest of the world over the thirteen years 2000-2012. Consistent with all of the preceding evidence, they show that exports to the Single Market have grown significantly less than those to the rest of the world. Its existence has therefore still to be demonstrated, and the rationale of buying into it remains a mystery.

Out of curiosity, the growth of services exports to the world by Switzerland and Norway has been added. In both cases this is the only data available over the same period for these two countries. Their exports to the EU 14 alone cannot therefore be shown. Switzerland, we are often reminded does not have a services agreement with the EU, but as far as one can tell from their total services exports, they do not appear to have suffered unduly. The per capita value of Switzerland’s services exports to the world in 2012 were $11608, Norway’s were $8662, and the UK’s were $4726, so Switzerland’s about two and a half times more, and Norway’s almost double.

Chapter 31 - graph

The interesting question is: how long will the UK wait until the Single Market in services appears? Might it not be time to take its fate in its own hands and like the Swiss negotiate trade agreements for themselves?

Ideally, it would have been interesting to compare these rates of growth with UK exports to the countries with which the EU has concluded trade agreements which include services, to see if they had made any difference. The available data do not allow us to do this.


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