We must, ministers keep telling us, remain part of Europe's Single Market.
As recently as 2002, the EU was the most important export market for British goods and services. Back then, we sold £153 billion of goods to the EU, compared to a mere £127 billion to the rest of the world.
Within a mere decade, sales of goods and services to the rest of the world have leapfrogged sales to the EU.
In terms of services, the change has been even more dramatic. In 2002, exports of services to the rest of the world exceeded those to the EU by a mere £15 billion. Today it is by a stonking £45 billion.
The difference between the value of our service exports to the EU and the rest of the world in 2011 was greater than the total value of the services we sold to the EU in 2002.
The Single Market remains a key market for British goods and services. But it is rapidly becoming just another market.
Why should a business in my constituency looking to sell to Russia, or India, or Manchester, have to comply with Single Market rules designed to facilitate trade with Belgium?
Of course a UK firm wanting to sell to the Eurozone should comply with local rules and standards - just like Chinese, American or Turkish firms have to do.
But they don't have to be part of the Single Market to do that. Their economies don't have to be 100 percent hidebound by every Single Market rule and regulation when not selling to the EU.
The Single Market does not give UK firms freedom to produce and sell throughout Europe. Instead it is an elaborate set of rules that mean a UK business can only produce and sell at all if it conforms with those rules. Far from free trade, the Single Market is a system of economic activity under license.
Throughout many of those countries we once called "under developed," there are emerging tens of millions of new global consumers. Our future prosperity will depend on our ability to sell to them.
Being part of Brussels' bureaucratic empire will hinder, rather than help, our ability to trade with the parts of the world that are growing.
Single Market? It's the global market that now counts.blog comments powered by Disqus
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