Between scepticism and optimism

What effects will Brexit have on German-British economic relations? The head of the German-British Chamber of Commerce in London explains.

London Eye: Changing prospects
London Eye: Changing prospects picture alliance / dpa

Dr Hoppe, what is the mood in German-British economic relations as the uncertainty surrounding Brexit continues?

Our current autumn survey shows that two-thirds of the companies questioned are prepared to accept an even longer period of uncertainty, if in the end a softer Brexit results in a customs union or partnership and close connections with the internal market. In the case of a hard Brexit they are afraid there will be new trade barriers and an increase in administrative work.

Dr Ulrich Hoppe, head of the German-British Chamber of Commerce in Britain
Dr Ulrich Hoppe, head of the German-British Chamber of Commerce in Britain AHK

How have German-British trade relations been faring recently?

In the first five months of 2019 German exports to Britain totalled around 35 billion euros. In comparison to the same time last year that was a drop of 2.3 per cent. Imports from Britain fell more, by 6.1 per cent to 15 billion euros. With a trade volume of 50 billion euros this makes Britain Germany’s seventh most important trading partner. In 2017 Britain ranked fifth and in 2018 sixth.

Would you like to venture a glimpse into the future?

No matter how Brexit pans out, Britain is still the second largest economy in Europe. The market will not be lost, and it will still play a major role for the German economy. But of course, uncertainty does have an effect on trade and investments. If people are unsure how the economy will develop, they won’t invest. The mere decision in favour of Brexit has already cost Britain around 3 per cent loss of growth.

Dr Ulrich Hoppe is Director General of the German-British Chamber of Industry and Commerce in London.

Interview: Martin Orth

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