The Conservative Party’s general election manifesto could not have been clearer: ‘A sustainable recovery must be driven by growth in exports’. A preceding speech by George Osborne specified ‘net exports’, explaining that rising exports had to be matched by falling imports, as Britain once again became a nation of ‘makers’ rather than consumers.
Yet the data on Britain’s trading position since the coalition government took office is equally clear: the trade deficit is getting worse rather than better. The proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is being sold as part of the solution to this – but I believe the notion that TTIP will lead to a rebalancing towards export-led growth is somewhat fanciful.
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