British firms fear rise in protectionism

 
Jasper Jolly
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Protectionist measures have risen since the global financial crisis (Source: Getty)

British companies are at risk from protectionist measures once the UK leaves the EU, according to a study published today.

The UK is the eighth biggest victim of protectionist trading measures, research by law firm Gowling WLG shows.

Some 85 per cent of director-level workers surveyed by the law firm believe some countries are increasing their usage of protectionist measures, while two-thirds think cross-border business is becoming more difficult.

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More negative trade measures are expected by 81 per cent of businesses in the future. Meanwhile, one in five believe their sector is unaware and unprepared for an increase in protectionist policies.

Michael Luckman, partner and head of international strategy at Gowling WLG, said: “Business leaders we surveyed are split on whether protectionism is good for their market – this is because protectionism is complex and can be positive or negative depending on the sector and country.”

The sum of exports and imports of goods and services measured as a share of GDP for the UK is 58 per cent, according to World Bank data, making the economy less exposed than France or Germany.

However, leaving the EU will expose the UK to protectionist measures from the bloc which were previously banned under the rules of the Single Market.

The US is the country with the biggest aggregate protectionist effect on other nations, according to the analysis, followed by Russia and China.

The US has passed 1,297 measures deemed to restrict global trade since 2009, according to Global Trade Alert data.

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