Confusing exports with wealth

Odd thing for an economist to do, confuse exports with wealth generation:

I quote this from the Guardian news summary email this morning:

British food and drink exports to the EU fell by £2bn in the first three months of 2021, with sales of dairy products plummeting by 90%, according to an analysis of HMRC data.

Overall food and drink exports to Ireland fell by 70.8% year on year, to Spain by 63%, Italy 61% and Germany 55%. The HMRC figures show dairy products down more than 90% and exports of cheese down by two-thirds compared with 2020. Whisky fell 32%, chocolate 37% and lamb and mutton 14%.

Please don’t tell me that Brexit is a success.

And please don’t tell me that these losses can be recovered from new trade deals. That is impossible.

Brexit is a simple act of economic sabotage in pursuit of racist goals.

If we don’t export it then we eat it ourselves. And imports have dropped over the same period too. So, umm, on balance not a great deal has happened.

It being important to recall that exports are our hard work that goes off to be enjoyed by Johnny Foreigner, they’re not the benefit of trade at all.

15 thoughts on “Confusing exports with wealth”

  1. Weird though that countries that export loads and run BoP surpluses are wealthy ones and countries that don’t aren’t………

  2. As Tim always says, the BoP must balance. For the export surplus of trade there must be dosh coming in that pays for it. So the country must become relatively wealthy, in monetary terms.

  3. Brexit is a simple act of economic sabotage in pursuit of racist goals.

    Brexit is just the gift that keeps on giving. Watching remoaner heads exploding never gets old.

  4. And why are these changes happening? Because the EU restricts trade. Best get rid of the restrictions, then. If that means the EU, then so be it.

  5. “British food and drink exports to the EU fell by £2bn in the first three months of 2021”

    AND in the same period British contributions to the EU budget fell by £6 billion, so that puts us ahead.

  6. “with sales of dairy products plummeting by 90%, according to an analysis of HMRC data.”

    Last time I checked, the Milk-ocean, and Cheese/Butter mountains haven’t disappeared. Which means that with Brexit, the severance of the dairy buyouts, and the added tarriffs, it’s no surprise whatshowever that dairy exports dropped like a stone.
    To export something, you need to have something the other side wants. When it comes to dairy the EU itself already produces so much they can’t even get rid of it for free… So unless it’s specialties, like real cheddar, stilton, and more of that ilk, there’s no way export to the EU could possibly even be profitable.

    UK Chocolate…. sir PTerry saw fit to make a comment on it in Thief of Time, and several other places.
    I’m surprised it’s only such a small drop.. Then again, a lot of the “exports” could be Nestlé et. al. still working from their centralised plants from the EU days.. I know some of them moved production to the UK because they could get away with more there just over a decade ago.

    Whisky.. Can’t abide the stuff, but.. Slap extra tarriffs on an expensive bit of alcohol, and you get… The cheap guzzle-stuff switched from “scottish” to “irish”.
    I’ve yet to hear from my friends who actually love the stuff about a dramatic shortage of the Expensive Stuff they like to torture their circle with, so my guess it’s No More Than Can Be Expected.

    Lamb/mutton… I think P³ and the Guardian missed the Great Invasion on the mainland, but if you want that, you go to a turkish butcher. And I very much doubt they ever sourced their ded-sheep in the UK, even while still in the EU.
    I can’t remember ever having seen mutton labelled UK in the past decade or so, except for snob-grade restaurant specialists. It’s either NZ or eastern EU.

    So… milk/dairy.. obvious. Lamb/mutton.. not even “competitive” in the past decade or two. Chocolate/whisk(e)y… luxury exports and tarriffs… quelle surprise. In the case of chocolate against a Gold Standard (belgian) that so far outstrips UK “quality” it’s not even funny anymore..

    It’s obvious that Chairwarmers on both sides are being huffy and causing unneccessary damage in the whole Brexit thing.. But the examples the Guardian uses, and P³ quotes are simply obvious and/or trivial..

  7. “Brexit is a simple act of economic sabotage in pursuit of racist goals.”

    Obviously, so was the identical campaign for Ireland to leave the economically beneficial union with Britain, and the identical campaign for Scotland to leave the economically beneficial union with England.

  8. “If we don’t export it then we eat it ourselves. And imports have dropped over the same period too. So, umm, on balance not a great deal has happened”

    Oh dear! And from someone who usually has such a good grasp of economics.

    If a UK supplier was selling to a EU buyer and now cannot, they will obviously be forced to sell at a lower price to a UK buyer (if not, why weren’t they already selling to the UK buyer?). So obviously trade barriers make sellers poorer. And the same applies to buyers. If a UK buyer was buying from the EU and now must switch to a UK supplier, by the same principle they must end up poorer.

    And that assumes that there is a UK alternative. If not the UK party ends up unable to buy/sell which may be very expensive (e.g. inability to sell milk means it has to be thrown away as you cannot regulate the amount your cows produce except by changing the size or breed of the herd).

    It has been known for a long time that trade barriers are bad. Brexit was advocated on the grounds that the barriers added between the UK and the EU would be less of an effect than reducing barriers between the UK and the rest of the world. We were supposed to be able to get a deal with the EU that was the “one of the easiest in human history”, but that turned out to be completely wrong. Then when you look at new trade deals, it seems things are going very badly. The one with Australia, for example, is not going to be fully effective for 15 years.

    And @Grikath: “Last time I checked, the Milk-ocean, and Cheese/Butter mountains haven’t disappeared.”. You need to check again. From 2017: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-07-27/europeans-eat-into-butter-mountain-in-sign-high-prices-to-linger

  9. From the ADHB in Jan ’21

    Dairy consumption trends
    Through 2020, all major dairy categories have seen retail growth in both spend and volumes. This differs from 2019 where total dairy struggled to find growth, due to lacklustre performance in milk and yogurt.

    Increases in cooking from scratch has benefitted a number of dairy categories. Butter, cream and cheese all saw double digit growth in 2020. Fresh cream was the fastest growing dairy category with retail volumes up 22.8% (Kantar, 52 w/e 27th Dec 2020). Shoppers increased how often they bought cream, with an average of 14.2 times in the year compared to only 12.6 in 2019. Health was less of a priority for many during 2020 so consumers treated themselves and upgraded the everyday with dairy.

    Butter benefitted from baking trends last year, seeing volume growth in retail of +18%. Increases in at-home lunches and sandwiches in particular have benefitted butter and cheese. Through 2020, cheese saw volume growth in retail of +15%.

    This is simply awful. I suggest we pay to be part of an organisation whose primary fiscal purpose is centralised farmland owner subsidies, and which operates a customs union which mainly protects the recipients from competition.

  10. High export economies aren’t necessarily rich. They are merely cash rich at the moment, which is not the same.

    Russia exports lots. If the price of oil collapses, so does its economy.

    NZ exports lots. We struggle with our BoP though because we have to import so much.

    Exports are good only if they are on top of a sound local economy. That’s way more important in the long run.

  11. “Large, complex economy takes time to adapt to new market conditions.”

    Film at 11.30 ( projector needs new bulb ).

  12. jgh. So of course was the heathen Chinee campaign to take over Hong Kong. And the the Indian desire to exit the good old empire.

    I can also point to the wicked black desire to leave the beneficial union with the white UK because of their skin colour. And why not sink the boot into both the Israelis and Palestinians for wishing to abandon the benevolent Brits for racist and religious reasons.

    I’m sure you can think of plenty more with no effort at all.

  13. @Charles
    A UK-EU trade deal should have been ‘the easiest in history’ because the difficult bit of trade deals is aligning standards, and standards were already perfectly aligned. But, of course, the fonctionnaires in the Berlaymont have no interest in a trade deal that would benefit their populace – what are they going to do, vote them out of office? – but a very strong interest in bolstering their failing ‘ever closer onion’, which means that, whatever happens, the UK must be made to ‘suffer’.

  14. @Chris Miller
    All of that was predicted in advance but all objections, however reasonable, were dismissed as “Project Fear”. So anyone who claimed it would be an easy deal is very much to blame for making false claims.

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