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UK Service Exports: European Single Market

Volume 654: debated on Thursday 7 February 2019

In 2017, 46.8% of UK services exports went to the European single market—including the European economic area and Switzerland—worth around £130.5 billion. That represents around 21% of total UK exports. Leaving the EU gives us the freedom to pursue an independent trade policy with countries around the world that reflects our unique strengths in services.

I thank the Secretary of State for his response, but last week the Office for National Statistics published the international trade and services statistics for 2017, which showed that financial services proved to be the largest service product exported globally by UK businesses and that the EU made up nearly half the UK’s service exports. A key part of business relationships with clients in the EU is the ability to travel freely, known as passporting rights. Has the Secretary of State made an assessment of what the end of freedom of movement, including for labour, will mean for services under the Prime Minister’s deal?

Actually, the share of our exports to the European Union accounted for by services is less than our average exported to the rest of the world. In fact, the future of our services will be dependent on global services arrangements, and outside the EU we will have a golden opportunity to shape the global services agenda in a way that suits the United Kingdom’s best interests. It is time that we in this House started to reflect the optimism and confidence of the British public who voted to leave the EU.