Brexit: CPTPP trade deal Big talk, tiny numbers: Ian McConnell

A prime example of this was the UK government’s announcement last week that the UK would join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak appeared desperate to make the most of what the Conservative government billed as “the biggest trade deal since Brexit”.

Many other arch-Brexiters by now remembered peacocks fanning their feathers, so keen were some obviously to intimidate or otherwise challenge with their supposedly wonderful news about the CPTPP anyone who dared to complain about their stupidity in leaving of the European Union to cry.

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Most of you probably hadn’t heard of this Indo-Pacific alliance a few years ago. Still, the arch-Brexites seemed proud to now be a part of it.

The UK Cabinet is obviously full of Brexiters and these ministers had to spin like crazy as the simple facts surrounding their foolish crusade didn’t fit their narrative at all. They would hope they would know the exact score with the CPTPP, even if they cheered about it.

A huge problem, however, is that their Brexiteer acolytes seem to take at face value any claims to success in the European Union exit crusade that are thrown their way.

Brexit undoubtedly remains an emotional and divisive issue.

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So it was always best to just look at the cold numbers where they exist. And it’s no different when it comes to assessing the impact of the CPTPP.

The British government assumes that joining the CPTPP, which currently has eleven nations, will only increase the country’s annual gross domestic product by 0.08 percent in the long term.

The Brexiteer peacocks might be a little surprised to learn this, one would think.

In any case, the next obvious step is to put this in context.

Responding to how much stronger the UK economy would be if the country stayed in the EU, the Chair of the Office for Budget Responsibility, Richard Hughes, was answered by the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg late last month: “We think this will reduce our overall performance in the long run about 4% compared to staying in the EU.”

To be clear, 4% is 50 times 0.08%.

The OBR was set up by the Conservatives shortly after they came to power in 2010 to provide independent forecasts.

The Theresa May Government’s projections, released in November 2018, showed that, on an average free trade deal with the EU, Brexit would mean Britain’s gross domestic product would be 4.9% lower in 15 years than if the country had remained in the bloc There was no change in migration regulations. Or worse by 6.7% on the basis of zero net labor flows from EEA countries. Since then, immigration from EEA countries has been severely restricted.

Countless forecasts and analyzes show that experts largely agree that Brexit is causing enormous damage to the British economy. And we have to remember, given the dizzying spins, that Brexit is far from “done”. Its effects will unfold over years and decades.

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In contrast, it’s certainly impossible to argue in any way that 0.08% is significant or even meaningful. The fact that such a small boost is expected from the biggest trade deal the UK has struck since Brexit really says it all.

However, it seemed that Mr. Sunak would not let that small number rain on his parade.

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He proclaimed: “We are an open and free-trading nation at heart, and this deal shows the true economic benefits of our post-Brexit freedoms. As part of the CPTPP, the UK is now in a prime position in the global economy to take advantage of opportunities for new jobs, growth and innovation.”

And he wasn’t done there yet.

Mr Sunak added: “Joining the CPTPP trading bloc puts the UK at the center of a dynamic and growing group of Pacific economies as the first new nation and first European country. British companies now enjoy unprecedented access to markets from Europe to the South Pacific.”

The UK government of course didn’t trumpet its 0.08% figure when the CPTPP deal was announced last week.

Rather, it declared that it “joins a vast Indo-Pacific trading bloc that will now have a combined GDP of £11 trillion”.

Of course, the number that matters is the perceived increase in annual UK economic output over the long term – that pesky (to Brexiters) 0.08%. And the relevant comparison is absolutely what is lost as a result of Brexit – which the OBR estimates is 50 times as much and even more according to the government’s May projections. The combined GDP of the CPTPP members, many of whom have trade deals with the UK anyway, is not really relevant.

There could be a simple reason why the UK is the first European country to join the CPTPP trading bloc – that it is a group of Indo-Pacific nations. The UK is not in the Indo-Pacific and is quite far from it, as are other European countries.

The EU is the UK’s largest trading partner due to its geographical proximity.

For as long as anyone can remember, peoples have traded with their nearest neighbors.

Yet the Brexiteer Tories appear absolutely delighted that Britain has lost smooth trade with the vast bloc that is the EEA and is joining a distant partnership.

Sometimes it seems as if Brexiters are being kicked out just for their own sake. Or are they just keen to uncover supposed benefits of Brexit when there aren’t any? Is it that they don’t understand? Or is it a combination of all of these things or something else entirely?

It’s not entirely clear what drives this strange, logic-defying behavior. What is clear, however, is that this behavior is costing the UK dearly. Brexit: CPTPP trade deal Big talk, tiny numbers: Ian McConnell

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