The UK does 51% of its trade with the EU
With the UK set to leave the EU in April 2019 and talks still not progressing to a future relationship, Brexit Secretary David Davis and his team face a race against time.
And a chart put together by M&G Investments shows just how much of UK trade is done with the bloc.
According to the figures, 51 per cent of this country’s trade is carried out under an agreement with the EU.
A further four per cent is with nations which are either in the European Economic Area or which have a customs union agreement.
Nine per cent is done under current EU preferential trade agreements and a huge 21 per cent of trade is conducted with nations that have one under negotiation.
And just 14 per cent of UK trade is conducted with the rest of the world, the chart shows – an illustration of the European market’s importance.
The UK trade chart
The figures show the huge pressure the UK Government is under as it tries to secure the best deal for the UK.
Talks so far have been mired in the detail of Britain’s divorce bill, EU citizens rights and arrangements for the Irish border.
And with talk the UK could crash out of the EU without a deal in place, having to adopt World Trade Organisation rules, Mr Davis has a huge task on his hands.
In a “no deal” scenario, the UK would likely have to negotiate separate deals with its trading partners, a long and complex process complicated by a lack of single market access.
Speaking to a House of Lords EU Committee today, Mr Davis said it was “very, very, very improbable” that talks would break up without a deal of any kind.
Even a “bare bones” agreement which did not cover trade or the transition was likely to ensure “basic” essentials like continued co-operation on aviation and nuclear safety are in place, he predicted.
Mr Davis told peers: ”I don’t think we will end up with a circumstance where there is no agreement on a number of fundamental issues.
“Whatever happens, we will have some sort of basic deal.
“What is commonly thought of as ‘no deal’ is not impossible but it is very, very, very improbable.”
And he played down his previous suggestion that negotiations on a free trade deal might continue right up to the deadline.
He told peers he believed a political agreement on the future relationship could be reached by October 2018, even if it could not be signed until “one second past midnight” on March 30 2019.
And he admitted: “The withdrawal agreement, on balance, will probably favour the Union in terms of things like money and so on.
“Whereas the future relationship will favour both sides and will be important to both of us.”