A NO-DEAL Brexit would have a “profound” effect on Dorset’s economy and make the region significantly poorer, it is claimed.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) says the South West would suffer a “multi-million pound blow” from the collapse of current trade deals.

The European Union has trade agreements with around 70 other countries. The CBI says the agreements with those countries are worth around £2.4billion to the regional economy, accounting for more than 12 per cent of exports.

Deborah Fraser, South West regional director for the CBI, said: “If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, overnight businesses in the South West could cease to enjoy the benefits of tariff-free trade with, and easy access to, crucial markets for products and services, from Canada to South Korea.

“Many firms are unaware it is not just their relationships with EU customers at risk from a no deal Brexit, but relationships across the globe.“Individual businesses trading with markets outside the EU would face tariffs worth millions of pounds being slapped on them instantaneously. These trade deals span five continents and are vital for the smooth export of our goods and services.“Exports to countries with EU free trade agreements are worth almost £2.4bn to the South West every year. The risk to these deals is an overlooked danger to our economy and yet another reason why no deal is not an option for the UK and jeopardises jobs in our communities.”

Professor Sangeeta Khorana of Bournemouth University, a specialist in bilateral free trade agreements, said: “No-deal Brexit will have profound negative economic consequences for Dorset. Under current arrangements with the EU, the UK enjoys tariff free access to nearly 70 countries. Should there be a no-deal Brexit this would cease and tariffs will apply to UK (and Dorset) exports.

“This will make exports uncompetitive and result in loss of market access for Dorset businesses. Employment and inward investment will also be negatively impacted, and the region will be poorer as a consequence.”

The warnings come amid efforts in Parliament to rule out a no-deal Brexit.

West Dorset MP Sir Oliver Letwin is joining with Labour’s Yvette Cooper in a push to delay Brexit if the prime minister does not get a deal agreed in time. Defence minister and Bournemouth East MP Tobias Ellwood is among those indicating they could defy the government to vote for the Letwin-Cooper amendment.

But Theresa May, speaking in Sharm el Sheikh, said a delay to Brexit “isn’t addressing the issues”.

She said: “I’ve had a real sense from the meetings I’ve had here and the conversations I’ve had in recent days that we can achieve that deal.”


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