A senior German industry figure has said it would be “very, very foolish” to impose trade barriers and called for a free trade deal between the UK and the European Union (EU) if Britons vote to leave the EU.
Mark Kerber, boss of the influential German industry organisation BDI, said he would make the case against trade tariffs and would call for a free trade deal if Britain votes to leave the EU tomorrow.
Mr. Kerber, who heads up the German equivalent of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said that any introduction of tariffs would be a “regression to times we thought we’d left behind in the 1970s”.
“Imposing trade barriers, imposing protectionist measures between our two countries – or between the two political centres, the European Union on the one hand and the UK on the other – would be a very, very foolish thing in the 21st Century.
“The BDI would urge politicians on both sides to come up with a trade regime that enables us to uphold and maintain the levels of trade we have, although it will become more difficult.”
Despite German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble threatening to freeze out Britain from the Single Market following a vote to leave — “out is out” — it is in the EU’s best interest to strike a free trade deal with the UK.
With new research showing that 5.5 million jobs in the EU depend on trade with the UK, Mr. Kerber stated that any introduction of tariffs would lead, specifically, to job losses in Germany.
The research concludes: “Compared to the figures for 2011, the number of EU jobs associated with exports to the UK has increased from 5.0 million to 5.5 million. This is because EU exports to the UK have increased by 10% in cash terms over this period.”
It also notes that by contrast as a member of the EU, “the number of UK jobs associated with exports to the EU has fallen from 4.5 million to 3.9 million as UK exports to the EU have fallen by 5% in cash terms between 2011 and 2014.”