Open letter to Sir Mike Rake, President, CBI
From Ruth Lea
Dear Sir Mike,
I read your recent speech to the CBI’s annual dinner with bemusement. Putting aside the CBI’s appalling track record on key policy matters (support for the UK membership of the euro, for example) or the fact that business is divided on the pros and cons of full EU membership (note Lord Bamford’s intervention), your assessment of the UK, the EU and the global economy is, quite simply, more than a generation out of date.
It is a truism to say the global economy is changing fundamentally. But, crucially, the EU’s share is in secular decline. In 1980 the EU28’s share of world GDP was over 30 per cent of world GDP (Purchasing Power Parity terms), which had fallen to 24 per cent by 2000 and was just over 17 per cent in 2014. Its decline can only continue, reflecting mature markets and adverse demographics in key EU economies. Growth markets, so crucial for internationally focussed British firms, will overwhelmingly be located outside the EU.
Reflecting this key parameter, the share of British exports (goods and services) is also in secular decline. It was over 52 per cent in 2003. Within a decade (2013) the share had fallen to under 45 per cent.
So your statement that we have a choice ‘…between shaping the future or retreating into the past’, implying the EU is the future, is redolent of the 1970s, 40 years ago. The EU may have been the ‘future once’ but it is clearly not the future now.