Anthony Bamford, chairman of construction firm JCB, has suggested that leaving the EU’s single market as part of Brexit will allow Britain to become “a global leader in free trade” and said businesses would take new export tariffs “in their stride.”
Speaking in the House of Lords on Friday, the Conservative peer dismissed fears that leaving the EU’s free trade zone — known as the single market — would negatively impact UK businesses.
“For companies that export, tariffs and import duties are not alien concepts. They are simply part of how we do business each day,” he said.
JCB exports 75% of the UK goods that it makes to other countries.
Bamford’s comments came as GDP figures showed the British economy defying economists’ expectations, growing by 0.5% in the three months following the country’s vote to leave the EU. His own sector — construction — shrank by 0.1%, however.
If the UK government does decide to leave the single market, it would automatically fall back on costly World Trade Organisation (WTO) tariffs, unless the UK is able to negotiate a more favourable arrangement by then.
Bamford suggested that it would be in the EU’s interests to strike up a free trade deal with the UK. He said (emphasis ours):
“If WTO rules were to apply, the EU would lose out much more than the UK. That is what Civitas concluded this week in its analysis of potential tariff costs for EU-UK trade.”
“As a nation, over 54% of all UK exports go to non-EU countries. Of course, Europe will continue to be an important market, but the EU’s role in the world economy is shrinking and will continue to shrink further. That is why regaining control of how we trade with the rest of the world is so important,” he said.
“We need the government to secure an exit deal … that will allow us to become a truly global trading nation.”