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Cambridge Economists Challenge Treasury post-Brexit Forecasting Models

last modified Jan 06, 2017 11:48 AM
Economists at the Centre for Business Research have challenged the assumptions of the Treasury in their new forecast for the UK economy and the impact of Brexit in 2017.

The economists have also been working with lawyers at the CBR to explore the possible impact of Brexit. They warn that the UK is in danger of remaining a low wage, low skill country unless it can create the conditions for a reorientation of its economic model post-Brexit.

In a new podcast for the CBR, Graham Gudgin, one of the authors of the new report “The Macro-Economic Impact of Brexit: Using the CBR Macro-Economic Model of the UK Economy (UKMOD)”, and Simon Deakin, Director of the CBR and Professor of Law at the University of Cambridge, discuss how the UK economy is likely to perform in 2017 and what would be the best model for leaving the EU.

Deakin begins by explaining four possible options the UK government could pursue for leaving the EU: re-joining (or remaining in) the EEA (European Economic Area); becoming a member of the EU’s customs union; undertaking a series of bespoke trade deals, such as Switzerland has; or, if none of the above apply, defaulting to the rules of the World Trade Organization. The first of these would mean accepting the free movement of persons, which the current policy of the British government appears to rule out.

Gudgin suggests that, since the policy of migration control is likely to be maintained, the UK will try to negotiate a new trade deal with the EU, perhaps along the lines of the recent EU-Canada agreement.  Some argue that this could take a decade or more to achieve, but Gudgin takes the view that since we are starting from an existing free-trade situation, the task is much easier. No quick agreement is however likely and whether the EU and the UK can negotiate transitional arrangements to bridge that gap remains to be seen.  Any new trade deal will also have to be conducted within the framework of WTO rules, which will add to the complexity of the negotiations.

Deakin elaborates:

“We can sketch out broadly what happens for each of these main options but I think there is a case for more research to be done. It is most unlikely that there will be a trade deal negotiated within two years of triggering Article 50, and as the process of negotiation and deliberation unfolds new issues will arise. These may crop up at sector level, particular industries may have issues that need to be worked through, and individual companies may raise points about their position and if they receive guarantees from government there will be issues of state aids to consider under both EU and WTO law. At the moment we just don’t have a good set of answers to these questions,” says Deakin.

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