SIR – Jeremy Warner acknowledges the gains to the economy and the consumer from free trade, but argues that it would be a “nightmare” because it could put plants such as Port Talbot out of business via a collapse in the car industry.
This is far too pessimistic. We at Economists for Free Trade, the pro‑Brexit advocacy group, have looked at that industry and found that Brexit will make it far more profitable, once you factor in the Brexit exchange rate adjustment. Furthermore, the productivity growth of which the car industry has shown itself to be capable will be the main way in which it will respond to what is simply a continuation of the competition it has already faced from globalisation.
Competition in general is the consumer’s and the economy’s friend, as the lower prices pressurise industries into raising productivity. Why shy away from the competition generated by free trade? The taxpayer is there to help industries we want to preserve for wider reasons, such as the environment. We can do that while still encouraging the good effects of competition.
Brexit brings large gains to the economy from the free trade it permits us to pursue. With full employment now a by-product of our flexible labour market, we should let these gains flourish, confident that employment will be robust as productivity responds.
Professor Patrick Minford
Chairman, Economists for Free Trade
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