UK trade could tumble by up to £92bn if we leave the EU, warns London business group

Helen Cahill
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The UK has benefited hugely from its free trade with the EU (Source: Getty)

You wouldn't know it, but the EU referendum campaigns officially kick off today - meaning we're about to be hit by even more claims about what will or will not happen in the event of Brexit.

Today, business group London First waded into the debate, with data showing UK trade could fall by up to £95bn if we leave the EU.

The research shows the UK has benefited from increased trade in services, estimated at between £36bn and £68bn in service exports, and £21bn and £39bn in imports.

The combined benefit of EU membership to UK trade - including both the value of goods and services - has been between £212bn and £400bn per year, the group said.

The figures from the research, by Frontier Economics, are based on what would happen if David Cameron secured a "Canadian-style" free trade agreement with the EU - one of the most open agreements that the EU has negotiated.

The deal with Canada - the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) - was finalised in 2014 and covers trade in both goods and services.

Read more: EU-Canada trade deal could pave way for US partnership

Canada's free trade agreement includes more areas than that in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which is currently being negotiated between the EU and the US.

Will Higham, director of campaigns at London First, said: "London is the leading European and global hub for services.

"Through our membership of the European Union, the UK reaps the benefits of increased competition and access to a much wider market, with fewer restrictions to this access. Critically, through EU membership, we have a voice at the table to shape this further. Leaving the EU would pose a massive risk to the UK services sector, and the wider jobs prospects for the next generation."

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