U.K. Services Left Out of Brexit Trade Talks, Think Tank Warns

U.K. Services Left Out of Brexit Trade Talks, Think Tank Warns

Bloomberg  | Jun 04, 2020 08:18

U.K. Services Left Out of Brexit Trade Talks, Think Tank Warns

(Bloomberg) -- Britain’s dominant services industry is being left out of the country’s post-Brexit trade negotiations, putting a large part of the economy at risk of profound damage, according to a report by the U.K. in a Changing Europe.

Services account for 80% of the nation’s economy and about 30 million jobs, yet the government has paid the sector little attention, the think tank based at King’s College, London said on Thursday.

The European Union is the primary destination for Britain’s service exports, and the single market has allowed greater cross-border trade than is typical of free-trade agreements, according to the group.

Even if Britain and the EU strike a trade deal this year, the sector will still suffer and, without one, exporters would face significant barriers because the World Trade Organization’s rules “are much weaker for services than goods,” the think tank found.

Financial services firms would depend on a unilateral EU decision on equivalence, which could be revoked at short notice, it said.

There is also the risk that service industries like finance, health, education and haulage could face staff shortages when free movement of people ends.

“This serves to underline the largely political nature of the government’s Brexit priorities, focused on regulatory autonomy rather than any economic implications,” Anand Menon, the U.K. in a Changing Europe’s director, said in a statement.

Negotiations between the U.K. and its biggest trading partner appear to be deadlocked, with the latest talks set to end Friday without a breakthrough. That raises the risk that Britain will crash out of the bloc without a deal at the year-end -- heaping more pain on businesses already reeling from the coronavirus.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

© Bloomberg. Tower Bridge stands in this view frame by a window on an empty bus traveling through the City of London, U.K., on Friday, May 29, 2020. For the last 11 weeks, Europe's financial center has been staffed with skeleton crews, particularly on the high-speed trading desks that are difficult to run from home. Photographer: Hollie Adams/Bloomberg

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