Peter Sutherland, the former World Trade Organization director-general has warned that exiting from the EU may be a huge blow for the UK if the country continues to depend on the trade agency’s regulations.
WTO Former Director-General Warns Brexit Huge Blow To UK Economy
Mr. Sutherland said the UK was especially vulnerable in the service and manufacturing sectors, which could face numerous complexities.
Proponents of the leave vote argue that the UK can continue to depend on WTO rules and that Mr. Sutherland’s warnings were unfounded.
Speaking with the BBC, high profile Brexit campaigner Gerard Lyons said Mr. Sutherland was only making his own conclusions.
According to Mr. Lyons, “The truth is that the UK can exit from the European Union and continue to trade freely under WTO rules.”
Mr. Sutherland previously worked as European Commissioner in the 1980s and was among those who helped to establish the foundation for the EU Single Market free trade area. He acted as the WTO director-general between 1933 and 1995.
The former director-general asserted that WTO rules could not be depended upon by those advocating for a Brexit given that the WTO does not give the right to provide services.
Presently, the British banking system provides services across Europe by virtue of the country being in the EU. The single passport system offers members the privilege to operate anywhere.
According to Mr. Sutherland, “If Britain left the European Union it would no longer have a single passport and a lot of companies providing financial services may be less inclined to have their headquarters in a country that is outside the EU.”
He added, ‘This would be a huge blow to the country’s economy.”
In a statement, the WTO said, “The organization has financial services agreements but not all members are part of these agreement and there are different levels of commitment among members.”