From: Mike Waters, Chairman, The Commercial Anglo-Dutch Society, Amsterdam
We are a society of British, Commonwealth and Dutch business professionals working in The Netherlands. My members have asked me to write to you about the UK referendum on June 23rd.
The Netherlands is Britain’s third largest trade partner, surpassed only by the USA and Germany. Britain will export around £24bn worth of products to The Netherlands this year. To enable this trade, a large number of us live and work here as well as in the UK, engaged in investment, the provision of goods and services, commercial activity, and sales and marketing. The Netherlands is also the second largest investor in Britain, with around £175bn of direct investments.
As business people we are confident of our abilities, and enjoy promoting GREAT Britain. Each deal is carefully crafted, and reworked on a regular basis, to ensure we keep our customers satisfied and British exports competitive and profitable.
We enjoy competing against companies from all over Europe and the rest of the world, but many of our competitors are sharpening their knives at the moment. They perceive the weakness in the British position; the UK government has asked European trading partners to give the UK a better deal, otherwise we will shoot ourselves. As we hold the gun to our head, our friends try to persuade us that life is still worth living. Those who do not care about us are quietly working out how to profit from our position once we pull the trigger.
The reason is simple. Businesses avoid unnecessary risk, and when Britain votes to leave the European Union, there will be a period of 5 or more years where British terms of business, British costs, and British ability to deliver, will be more uncertain than the competition.
Neither we, nor anyone else, can tell you how much trade and investment this will cost. It will be the accumulation of millions of individual decisions by tens of thousands of managers in individual companies, each of which will decide their purchasing and investment strategy in their own best interests. Current estimates are a negative impact of around 5%, but it may be a little lower, or a lot higher. British exports to Europe are already being affected by this uncertainty, as you may have read elsewhere.
This £24bn of exports translates into a total of over 3m jobs in the UK, and total European exports account for over 8m jobs in the UK. If the impact is 5%, 400,000 jobs will be lost in Britain.
Yes, there is much wrong with the European Union. Yes, Europe is crying out for better leadership. Yes, Europe must be reformed. Britain’s active participation is critical to this.
Please vote on June 23rd, and vote wisely. We trust your good judgement.
The above letter has been widely circulated for distribution and publication in the UK.