Most trade agreements entered by the European Commission are followed by a decline in export growth between Britain and the partner nation, a Civitas analysis shows.
Of the 15 EU agreements for which the best trade data is available, only five saw a subsequent rise in export growth from the UK. In the other 10 examples, the rate of growth fell.
The analysis is provided by Civitas author Michael Burrage in his forthcoming publication The Eurosceptics' Handbook.
Using statistics from the UN Comtrade database, he compares the rate of growth of UK exports before and after the 15 EU agreements for which there was adequate data. (By adequate is meant those with at least five post-agreement years of trade, since agreements take time to have an impact and Compound Annual Growth Rates (CAGRs) over shorter periods can be erratic and misleading.)
Export growth is measured and compared over as many years as possible, but always with an equal number of years before and after. All the growth rates are calculated in 1993 US dollars.
Those countries to which export growth improved were Lebanon, Turkey, Chile, Papua New Guinea and Fiji. Those with which it declined were Tunisia, Israel, Morocco, Mexico, Jordan, Egypt, Algeria, Albania, Bosnia and Heregovina, and Ivory Coast.
Michael Burrage said:
'Numerous UK political and business leaders, trade federations and businesses argue that the UK has benefited from surrendering the right to negotiate its own trade agreements to the European Commission.
'When they next repeat this argument, they may want to refer to the real world, in which case they might mention Lebanon, Turkey, Chile, Papua New Guinea and Fiji.
'These five countries are, prima facie at least, the only EU FTA 'success stories' from a UK point of view, where UK exports may be seen to have grown faster after the EU agreement came into force than they had done before. Together these five countries accounted for 1.44 per cent of UK goods exports in 2015.
'If they wanted to justify the enthusiasm about the EU's negotiating heft and clout, they might prefer to mention countries which showed a substantial post-agreement increase of, say at least five per cent real growth in UK exports. Only two countries qualify: Chile and Lebanon. Together these two star performers accounted for 0.28 per cent of UK goods exports in 2015.'
The full breakdown trade agreements and the rates of export growth before and after, can be viewed in the table below (click the table to enlarge it):