Boris Johnson’s government has refused to release its projections on new trade deals, the Independent reports.
It is understood that the government conducted an analysis of the expected economic impact from post-Brexit trade deals with the United States, Japan and a group of Pacific nations known as CPTPP between 2017 and 2019. Those studies have not been made public to date.
The Independent has sought to get a look at that research by submitting a freedom of information request, and has been denied one by Johnson’s cabinet under the pretext that the information relates to “the development of government policy”.
“Premature release of this analysis would be detrimental to the progress of future trade discussions once the UK has left the EU,” the Department of International Trade said in a statement.
Some observers have suggested this refusal means that the analysis has predicted little economic benefit from Britain’s future trade arrangements, despite Boris Johnson’s promises.
“If the government thought it had a very strong case that these deals would be big and strong then they would publish these studies,” Professor Winters from the UK Trade Policy Observatory told the Independent.
The Labour Party has called for the immediate release of the information, although the Tory majority in parliament leaves little chance for the opposition to wrest it out.
European Union rules will govern the UK’s trade with other countries until the end of the year; until then, Boris Johnson has to agree on and implement separate trade deals with the rest of the world, including the EU.
Britain has already negotiated post-Brexit trade agreements with about 50 countries, but talks with the most crucial partners – the United States, the European Union, and Asian nations – are still underway.
The government’s only predictions about the effect of those deals, published in November 2018, suggested that the combined benefit of new tariff-cutting agreements with the United States, Canada, Japan and other big trading partners would add between 0.1 and 0.2 percent to the national economic output – only to be offset by the withdrawal from the European single market and customs union.
An independent study by the Trade Policy Observatory has pegged the combined effect from free trade deals with the United States, Australia and New Zealand at around 0.4 percent. Leaving the EU, meanwhile, would lead to an overall reduction in GDP of 1.8 percent. This means that each British household would lose an average of £1,000 ($1,300).