Calls for a Brexit trade plan to address over-reliance on EU exports

Welsh Conservatives have called on the Welsh Labour Government to develop a new economic strategy to boost exports to non-EU countries.

The calls come after new stats revealed that Welsh exports to the EU now account for 67.7% of all Welsh exports, up from just 44.6% in 2012.

Shadow Economy Secretary, Russell George, is warning of the dangers of an ‘over-reliance’ on EU trade, and calling on the Welsh Government to embrace the coming era of free trade with a new strategy focused on making the Welsh economy more “robust and outward looking”.

According to Welsh Government figures, for the United Kingdom as a whole just under a half of all exports go to EU nations (49.4%), but that figure is significantly higher in Wales.

In the 12 months up to and including September 2016, exports to the EU accounted for 67.7% of the all exports; compared to just 44.6% during 2012.

Over the same period, exports to North America declined starkly – from 26.8% of all Welsh exports in 2012, to just 15.4% during the year to date.

Mr George said:

“This isn’t about cutting the volume of trade with Europe. We simply need to ensure that the Welsh economy is as robust and outward-looking as possible as we enter a new era of free trade.

“It’s clear that the Labour Government’s approach is failing, and the over-reliance of the Welsh economy on exports to the EU is becoming a significant problem at just the time that we have an opportunity to broaden the markets to whom we export.

“Whilst the EU accounts for less than 50% of all UK exports, more than two-thirds of all Welsh exports are to Europe which suggests a wider issue with the Welsh Government’s economic approach.

“We have an historic opportunity to get to the front of the queue for a trade deal with a new President who has indicated a willingness to do business with the UK.

“In recent years the First Minister has made a number of high profile trade missions to North America, and yet trade with the region has fallen dramatically since 2012.

“2017 is an opportunity to develop a new economic strategy, and that must include a plan to capitalise on the opportunities of Brexit by boosting trade with the rest of the world.”

 

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