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UK still top choice for eCommerce in Europe

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The Brexit vote has caused a lot of uncertainty in the business world, and there are plenty of questions to be answered, but it won’t have any significant effect on trade. In fact, the UK is still the top choice for eCommerce fulfilment and remains the largest market for online shopping in Europe.

Post-Brexit Positivity for UK Trade

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Here’s why:

  • The United Kingdom will remain an excellent choice as a gateway to Europe and will continue to enjoy free trade (see our article below).

  • The UK is the largest eCommerce market in Europe at £52bn, nearly twice the size of France.

  • The UK is currently the world leader in eCommerce accounting for 14.5% of all purchases.

  • Britain has the highest spend per online shopper within Europe.

  • The UK is an English language market, so requires minimal product labelling changes.

The UK Referendum

When the public voted in the recent referendum for the UK to leave the EU, they voted without any specific plan or model before them as to what the future might look like. While that has clearly created a lot of uncertainty, both in the financial markets and in business as a whole, the reality is likely to be far from a hard and fast EU exit.

It’s also worth noting that the result itself is not legally binding - there is already talk of a second referendum, suggestions that Scotland could veto the exit, and discussion as to whether parliament will simply ignore the vote (though that’s not to say we mustn’t consider the potential effects).

There is currently a lot of division within the UK over immigration and our sovereignty, fuelled over the last decade not only by the media, but also by the government itself - EU regulations and immigration have been popular excuses for the under-investment in schools, the failings of the NHS, pensions and economic recession.

Many are suggesting that the referendum result is more of a ‘vote of no confidence’ in the system, more of a retaliation against the establishments of both the government and Brussels than it is a desire to actually remove the UK from the European Union. It must be remembered that the majority of the population (over 60% if you include the 28% who did not turn up to vote) didn’t vote to leave.

What does this mean for the ability of the UK to ship goods to Europe?

While much of the UK population is unhappy with the current state of EU integration, there is little doubt that the UK will still remain part of the European Single Market, as to leave would be hugely costly for the country. For UK businesses to continue to trade in Europe they would be required continue to abide by EU regulations.

That means that although the UK may no longer play a part in the creation of regulations, it would still be subject to them. Many of those campaigning for the UK to leave entirely have since back-tracked on their promises in acknowledgement that it wouldn’t actually be possible to leave entirely.

The Europe Union is also a lot more complex than many realise, and is made up of multiple agreements working at different levels to create a more open market. For instance, there’s the European Free Trade Area (EFTA), the European Economic Area (EEA), the European Union Customs Union (CU), Association Agreements (AAs and SAAs), as well as country-specific treaties for trade.

So whilst the UK may leave the EU, it would remain part of the EFTA, EEA and CU. There would continue to be free trade in a single market, without customs duties or levies as there is now. If the UK remains, which is still a possibility, then it would make no difference of course.

June 27th, 2016 by Hannah Newman

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