Virtually every UK city’s major export partner is the EU, claims research

As an island just off the coast of mainland Europe it is hardly surprising that UK trade with the EU is huge and access the single market encourages this level of commerce.

Now the UK is about to invoke article 50 and leave the EU, a thinktank has investigated the level of trade British cities have with the single market. The findings indicate that our urban areas conduct a huge amount of business with our EU partners, however they will not be our trading partners for much longer.

The Centre for Cities has found that UK cities would need to ramp up trade with other markets to make up for the shortfall from a hard Bexit, where trade tariffs could damage trading relations with the EU.

The thinktank has found that virtually all British major conurbations rely on the EU over any other market. A damaging hard Brexit could put jobs under risk and damage growth in our towns and cities.

The Centre for Cities found 46 per cent of exports from UK urban areas are sent to the EU, compared to 15 per cent to America and a tiny 4 per cent to China.

Data from 2014 shows 61 of the 62 places defined as a city send more goods and services to the EU than anywhere else.

Theresa May wants to create a “global Britain” but damaging relations with our closest and larges trading bloc means that a world wide global strategy for trading growth must be comprehensive and successful. For example, the thinktank said that to make up for a 10% decrease in exports to the EU, British cities would have to nearly double exports to China. The USA might well become more isolationist under Trump, which could see the UK export even less to America.

UK cities cover just 8% of land in the UK, they account for 54% of the population, 60% of jobs and 62% of all exports.

The thinktank’s chief executive, Alexandra Jones, said: “Securing the best possible EU trade deal will be critical for the prosperity of cities across Britain, and should be the government’s top priority as we prepare to leave the single market and potentially the customs union.

“While it’s right to be ambitious about increasing exports to countries such as the US and China, the outcome of EU trade negotiations will have a much bigger impact on places and people up and down the country.”

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