Brexit means UK will leave the EU single market

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It’s only in the past few weeks that any real details of what sort of deal the UK government will seek as it moves to leave the European Union. And on Tuesday British Prime Minister Theresa May made her most specific announcements regarding Brexit.

By far the most crucial aspect of what she said of relevance to ecommerce sellers relates to Britain and its relationship with the single market. That’s the EU mechanism that allows the free movement of goods, people and capital without tariffs or duties across all member states.

For anyone trading across the EU, on Amazon in Germany say, Allegro in Poland or eBay in Spain, that means that you can send your goods from the UK and they aren’t subject to import tax and little paperwork. You send them to the other member states of the EU and they can pass freely, as if within the UK.

Theresa May said: “We want to buy your goods, sell you ours, trade with you as freely as possible and work with one another to make sure we are all safer, more secure and more prosperous through continued friendship.”

But this explicit aim to withdraw from the single market is a big deal. Indeed, I seem to recall many Leave campaigners saying that the UK would remain in the trading bloc after the Brexit they were arguing for.

Perhaps that will be the case. But May went on to say: “We do not seek to adopt a model already enjoyed by other countries. We do not seek to hold on to bits of membership as we leave. The United Kingdom is leaving the European Union.” That would seem to indicate that a Norway/Switzerland/Iceland arrangement within the European Economic Area (EEA) is out of the question for the UK.

In the immediate future nothing will change. The UK is still a full EU member. The UK government plans to trigger Article 50 by the end of March and the process will take at least two years.

But the question is what the further future will hold. Can a deal be done that means that UK ecommerce sellers can sell into the EU with reasonable ease? Hopefully. We won’t know for some time.

One Response

  1. Unless one were absolutely clueless, they knew leaving the EU would mean leaving EVERYTHING, including the customs union, single market and all UK trade agreements the EU negotiated on your behalf. Limited admittance to the EU may take years if not decades to agree, ratify and enact. Furthermore, access to non-EU markets will take just as long, if not longer as other countries will likely wait until the UK is in recession before throwing the UK a raw deal. Furthermore the UK pound is still falling, making your domestic demand weak. So, good luck with that!

    I’m not a UK seller or even in the EU, but even I know that many online UK stores will close in the wake of brexit. Knowing this, we’ve divested ourselves of all UK service providers since their future is uncertain, which has been slightly inconvenient. We’re all bemused by this act of jingoistic (and seemingly racist) suicide you Brits are intent on committing, which blunts some of the pity we feel for you. Other than muttering how stupid the brexit vote was, most people here are utterly indifferent to the UK’s plight, but online sellers like myself look forward to less UK competition in the EU market.


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