South Korea’s Single Market Trade


Our series on EU trade with non-members of the Single Market; the US, China and Japan brought lots of whining from Remainers. One of their arguments for why this was not a valid indication that EU-UK trade will be fine is that these were examples from the three biggest economies in the world outside the Single Market. The implication was that of course big economies trade successfully with the EU, the UK has not got the same clout. Despite the fact that the UK will be the next biggest economy outside the EU.

So for our next example we chose a smaller economy, South Korea, with a GDP approximately half that of the UK, so presumably with far less clout. It also has the disadvantage of being 5000 miles from the EU rather than just 26 miles down a tunnel away. It is also out side that ever so important Single Market common regulatory area.

As a proportion of GDP Korea’s annual two-way trade with EU countries is 13.5% (almost $200 billion). This is a little under the UK’s 17% on the same basis. Despite having an economy half the size of the UK, the Koreans and the EU signed a free trade agreement in 2010 and a large number of import duties have been progressively slashed. Here we have it, a small country on the other side of the world, outside of the single market trading only slightly less with the EU then we do now…

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