Potential losses in UK trade with the EU because of Brexit will be more than made up by more opportunities in developing markets, Dominic Raab has claimed, saying people should take a “10-year view” of the current troubles faced by companies.
Questioned about warnings from a number of firms that bureaucracy and duties means they will go out of business, or have to relocate operations inside the EU, the foreign secretary also appeared to blame Brussels, saying it was “imposing” obstacles to trade.
Since the end of the Brexit transition period in January, with the UK’s status outside the single market and customs union, a number of firms have said their current position is untenable, with JD Sports saying last week it expected to open a major warehouse inside the EU to avoid bureaucracy over shipments to European customers.
Asked about the experience of companies facing such difficulties, Raab told BBC1’s Andrew Marr programme that the government was “doing a huge amount to support them, with advice and guidance, particularly intermediaries dealing with things like custom declarations”.
He added: “We have always been clear that there are changes that come with exiting the transition period, and what we’re trying to do is support businesses as best we can to manage those.”
Raab said such disruption should be seen in a broader context. He said: “You can always take individual cases, and I know they matter, but overall we’re in an excellent position to grasp the opportunities of a global Britain.
“I think if you take a 10-year view, as well as looking at the short-term risk, which is right to do, actually the growth opportunities in the future are going to come from emerging and developing economies around the world.”
Asked if this meant UK businesses should accept less trade with the EU and focus more on places such as Asia, Raab replied: “I wouldn’t put it quite in those terms, but it’s certainly right to say that we want to bank, if you like, the baseline of our European trade – it’s very important to us, and they are obviously our neighbours – but if you look at the opportunities for growth in the future for UK companies … the growth economies are going to come from the Indo-Pacific region.”
Raab also appeared to blame the EU for many of the barriers, saying the government was seeking to “reduce and mitigate as far as we can the bureaucratic obstacles that the EU is imposing”.
He was bullish about the idea of EU financial centres taking considerable business from the City of London, despite Amsterdam having overtaken London as Europe’s top share trading centre.
Raab said: “[The EU] may be able to, if you like, nick a bit of business here or there from the City, but the problem is, the measures they will take to achieve that undermine their own competitiveness.”