Protectionism: 19th-Century Thinking for a 21st-Century World

What U.S. tax professionals can learn from Brexit. 

By Richard Asquith

As the increasingly febrile politics of Brexit pushes the UK toward a hard EU departure, businesses are beginning to take the implications for their international trade seriously. This includes concern over potential tariffs if the UK leaves the Single Market and EU Customs Union.

But fretting about tariffs is 19th-century thinking for a 21st-century world. The full-sized menace of a hard Brexit for businesses would be non-tariff barriers. Based on studies by the EU, this could cost the UK €4 billion per annum.

Immigration controls and skills risks
The one certainty of a post-Brexit UK will be heavy restrictions on the supply of low-cost and skilled staff from the EU and beyond. This will undermine profit levels for every industry from construction through to agriculture that relies on inexpensive migrant employees. Some of the UK’s leading global sectors are also now raising concerns around graduate and doctorate-level hiring from abroad. READ MORE →