ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

cloudy-day
68°
Mostly Cloudy
H 83° L 64°
  • cloudy-day
    68°
    Current Conditions
    Mostly Cloudy. H 83° L 64°
  • cloudy-day
    82°
    Afternoon
    Mostly Cloudy. H 83° L 64°
  • clear-night
    75°
    Evening
    Mostly Clear. H 83° L 64°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest newscast

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

World
UK exports to EU rise as Brexit talks enter next stage
Close

UK exports to EU rise as Brexit talks enter next stage

UK exports to EU rise as Brexit talks enter next stage
Photo Credit: Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert
European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier addresses the media on Brexit at EU headquarters in Brussels on Friday Feb. 9, 2018. The EU and Britain conducted a seventh round of Brexit negotiations on Friday. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

UK exports to EU rise as Brexit talks enter next stage

As Brexit gets nearer, British firms are exporting more to the other 27 countries in the European Union, a state of affairs that will linger over the difficult discussions ahead on the U.K's future relationship with the bloc.

Official figures released Friday show that seven of the top 10 destinations for British exports in 2017 were EU countries. Selling everything from cars to pharmaceuticals and gin, British firms exported some 37.7 billion pounds ($53 billion) worth of goods to Germany in 2017, around 13 percent more than the year before. Germany accounted for 11 percent of British exports, up a tad on the year before, and second overall behind the United States.

Other EU countries in the top 10 included France, where exports spiked by nearly 30 percent in 2017, and Ireland, the only EU country to share a land border with the United Kingdom.

Overall, EU countries accounted for 48.8 percent of British goods exports to the EU in 2017, up from 48.2 percent the year before.

The increasing importance of the EU as a destination for British goods is largely due to the fact that Britain remains a member of the EU until March 2019. Exporters also enjoying a boon from the fall in the value of the British pound after the country's 2016 vote to leave the bloc.

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has called it a "sweet spot," with exporters benefiting from the near 20 percent fall in the pound's value against the euro "in anticipation of a Brexit that has not yet happened." The euro, which is used by 19 EU countries, is now worth 0.89 pound, compared with around 0.75 pound before the referendum.

But Brexit is happening and no one, it seems, quite knows what it will mean. That's a particular problem for businesses that have enjoyed tariff-free trade with the EU for decades thanks to the bloc's single market and its customs union.

The Conservative British government has made clear that Brexit means leaving both the single market and the customs union. However, it hopes to negotiate a new free trade agreement that will prevent the return of costly customs checks and tariffs.

No one is sure how that can happen and discussions this week within the British government failed to clarify its vision of the post-Brexit relationship.

A deep split within the Conservative party has emerged in recent months. Some lawmakers in Prime Minister Theresa May's party want close ties with the remaining 27 EU nations and a period of transition after Brexit day. Others want a more fundamental break and are comfortable with the idea of tariffs on trade with the EU if it gives Britain more leeway to carve out trade deals with fast-growing economies around the world, particularly in Asia.

May hopes to agree soon on the terms of a transition deal that would see Britain remain in the single market and customs union for a period after the Brexit exit. That would give firms and households time to adjust.

Carney has argued repeatedly that the outlines of a transition deal need should be in place by the end of the first quarter of this year so businesses can plan ahead. Many firms have held back investment amid the uncertainty and some, particularly in finance, have warned they could relocate some activities to the EU if the situation doesn't become clearer.

"As we move through the Brexit process, more needs to be done to provide clarity on what the future trading relationship with the EU will look like," said Suren Thiru, head of economics at the British Chambers of Commerce.

For its part, the EU has been relatively clear.

Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, said Friday the transition is "not yet sealed" and that barriers to trade, such as border checks, would be inevitable if Britain opts out of the single market and the customs union. Barriers can also include everything from tariffs to legal red tape.

"The United Kingdom must accept all the rules and the conditions right until the end of the transition, and must also accept the inescapable consequences of its decision to leave the European Union," Barnier said at the end of a week of technical talks.

Proponents of Brexit say Britain would be able to thrive even in that environment as the country could have more freedom in trade discussions with countries like China, India and even the United States.

There's clearly room for growth in British exports to China: in 2017, Britain sold 18.2 billion pounds worth of goods there, representing only 5.3 percent of its total exports, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Even though the relative importance of EU trade is greater for Britain, Brexit proponents argue that EU countries have a lot to lose, too, if free trade is interrupted. Germany, which is Europe's biggest economy, is the No. 1 seller of goods to Britain — it sold 69.5 billion pounds worth of goods to Britain in 2017, or around 14.5 percent of Britain's total imports. That's a lot of BMWs and Volkswagen Golfs.

Brexit-backers also say the EU is a major consumer of British services, particularly in finance, and that will help the sides reach a deal.

However the Brexit process pans out — and Carney has said he expects more "twists and turns" — the British economy and the EU are inextricably linked, so both sides may be treading carefully in the months ahead.

___

Lorne Cook in Brussels contributed to this report.

Read More
VIEW COMMENTS

There are no comments yet. Be the first to post your thoughts. or Register.

The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • New York University has issued a public apology and fired their director of food service after students complained that  watermelon water and cornbread the school was serving during Black History Month was racially insensitive. Student Nia Harris told CNN she noticed a sign for a Black History Month special menu in the university dining room and was stunned when saw what was actually on the menu. Ribs, collard greens, cornbread, mac and cheese, yams, and two beverages, watermelon-flavored water and red Kool-Aid.  Harris said 'I talked to the cook who told me 'black people put this menu together' and assured me that it was not racially insensitive,'  She emailed the dean of the school and NYU’s President Andrew Hamilton of the insensitive and “stereotypical” meal. She also posted the letter on her facebook page.  President Hamilton issued a statement saying in part, “We were shocked to learn of the drink and food choices that our food service provider - Aramark - offered at the Weinstein dining hall as part of Black History Month. It was inexcusably insensitive.”
  • Florida executed a man for the 1993 rape and murder of a Florida college student Thursday. Authorities say Eric Scott Branch, 47, screamed Murders, murders repeatedly as he was being put to death Thursday.  Branch was pronounced dead at 7:05 p.m. Thursday evening after a lethal injection at Florida State Prison in Starke. He was convicted in the 1993 rape and fatal beating of 21-year-old college student Susan Morris, whose body was found buried in a shallow grave. Morris was a University of  West Florida student at the time of her death.  Branch also was convicted of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl in Indiana,  and another sexual assault in Panama City.
  • The school resource officer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has resigned, according to Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel. [View the story 'Stoneman Douglas resource officer resigns after investigation' on Storify] >> Read more trending news  Follow along with our live updates as we learn more
  • Officials with the National Rifle Association on Wednesday voiced opposition to any legislation aimed at raising the minimum age needed to buy certain rifles amid a renewed gun debate following last week’s deadly school shooting in Florida. >> Read more trending news In a statement obtained by The Hill, NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker said the focus should be on keeping guns out of the hands of “violent criminals and the dangerously mentally ill.” “Passing a law that makes it illegal for a 20-year-old to purchase a shotgun for hunting or adult single mother from purchasing the most effective self-defense rifle on the market punishes law-abiding citizens for the evil acts of criminals,” she said. The group argued that raising the minimum age would deprive people between the ages of 18 and 20 of “their constitutional right to self-protection.” Authorities said Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old identified by police as the gunman in last week’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, legally bought the AR-15 rifle he used to gun down 14 students and three teachers. He has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. >> Related: Florida school shooting: How difficult is it to purchase a gun in Florida? The current federal minimum age for buying or possessing handguns is 21, but the limit is 18 for rifles, including assault-type weapons such as the AR-15. Officials with the NRA did not address the possibility of raising the minimum age Thursday while speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference. However, President Donald Trump endorsed the idea during a school safety discussion Thursday with state and local leaders from across the nation, The Associated Press reported. >> Related: Who is NRA head Wayne LaPierre and what did he say at the CPAC meeting? 'We're going to work on getting the age up to 21 instead of 18,' Trump said. 'The NRA will back it and so will Congress.” Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, said in a tweet Wednesday that he was working with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, on a bipartisan bill to raise the minimum gun purchase age for most Americans to 21 years old. “A kid too young (to) buy a handgun should be too young to buy an #AR15,” he wrote. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • America’s net neutrality rules are set to end in April after the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal them late last year, according to an order filed Thursday with the Federal Register. >> Read more trending news The repeal is set to take effect April 23, according to the order. The Republican-led FCC voted in December to repeal net neutrality rules, which aimed to stop broadband companies from exercising more control over what people watch and see on the internet. >> Related: Net neutrality vote: FCC OKs repeal of Obama-era rules The broadband industry promised that the internet experience wouldn’t change, but critics argued that the Obama-era rules were needed to prevent broadband providers like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T from having the power to censor content on the internet.  FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who put forth the planned repeal and voted in its favor, dismissed the concerns last year. “The sky is not falling,” he said. “Consumers will remain protected and the internet will continue to thrive. … Quite simply, we are restoring the light-touch framework that has governed the internet for most of its existence.” >> Related: 5 things to know about the FCC’s net neutrality repeal Still, Thursday’s filing was expected to open the door to challengers of the decision, The Hill reported. “Now that the new rules have officially been published, net neutrality supporters are able to mount a legal challenge against them,” according to the news site. “Democratic attorneys general, public interest groups and internet companies have all promised to file lawsuits to preserve the 2015 protections.” The attorneys general of 20 states and tech companies filed suits last month to halt the repeal, according to CNN. >> Related: State attorneys general ask FCC to delay net neutrality vote Denelle Dixon, chief business and legal officer at Mozilla, wrote in a post on the tech company's blog that Mozilla refiled a challenge to the repeal 'immediately after the order was published.' 'We won't waste a minute in our fight to protect net neutrality because it's our mission to ensure the internet is a global public resource, open and accessible to all,' she wrote. 'An internet that truly puts people first, where individuals can shape their own experience and are empowered, safe and independent.' Votes fell along party lines in December, with the FCC board’s Republicans favoring the repeal and the two Democrats on the board voting against it. >> Related: New York AG investigating fraudulent net neutrality comments to FCC FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who voted against the repeal, said in a statement released Thursday that the FCC has “failed the American public.” “It turned a blind eye to all kinds of corruption in our public record – from Russian intervention to fake comments to stolen identities in our files,” she said. Before December’s vote, the attorneys general of nearly 20 states asked the FCC to delay its decision based on evidence that impersonators posted hundreds of thousands of fake comments on the commissions’ notice of the proposed rule change. Despite the appeal, the vote went on as scheduled. “As a result of the mess the agency created, broadband providers will now have the power to block websites, throttle services and censor online content,” Rosenworcel said. “This is not right. The FCC is on the wrong side of history and the wrong side of the law and it deserves to have its handiwork revisited, reexamined and ultimately reversed.”