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CGD in the News

No-deal Brexit could sink much of Asia (Asia Times)

February 11, 2019

From the article:

As the United Kingdom (UK) heads towards a possible “no deal” Brexit, the uncertainty surrounding the terms of the UK’s imminent departure from the European Union (EU) is making waves as far away as Southeast Asia.

The German Development Institute, a think tank, recently estimated in a report that Cambodia could be one of the world’s biggest losers in the event of a “no-deal” Brexit. As many as 1.7 million people living in developing nations could descend into “extreme poverty” in the event, the think tank claimed.

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According to a recent report by the Centre for Global Development (CGD), a think tank, the “best-case scenario” for developing nations is that the UK quickly amends its existing cross-border legislation before March 29 so that its tariffs and duties for poorer nations simply replicate those of the EU’s preferential trade deals, like the EBA scheme.

This is not too difficult, the report states, but as “Brexit congests the parliamentary business schedule severely” politicians might not find the necessary time to make these changes. “Under this worst-case scenario, following no-deal, developing countries would lose all preferential access to the UK and face much higher…tariff rates,” it added.

Yet the stark question is whether trade with the world’s poorest nations, including Cambodia, is actually high on the list of the UK government’s priories right now – or even on that list. In 2016, the UK’s bilateral trade with Southeast Asia was worth around $41.8 billion. Around 68% of that trade was done with just three countries: Singapore (36.1%), Thailand (17.1%) and Vietnam (14.9%). Trade with Cambodia might be important for Phnom Penh, but its negligible for London.