Picture for the side of a bus

This is from MapPorn (I know, it’s sad, I cannot manage the real stuff).

It shows the actual major trading import partners of European countries.

The German takeover of European trade, including those countries not in the Euro, is pretty much complete…

This indicates the flimsiness of Brexiters assumption that Britain is such an important market for the Germans that they will feel compelled to offer us a special deal. That looks distinctly doubtful if, in so doing, they might upset their other markets, almost all of whom are EU members.The map certainly simplifies a view of trade but (on the lines of £350m for the NHS) such simple graphics should indicate to Brexiters the complete folly of their arguments.

It is interesting, too, that smaller countries and populations tend to trade imports predominantly with their neighbours – thus Portugal with Spain, Ireland with Britain, Belgium with France and Tunisia with France and even Ukraine with Russia. This is heavy evidence of the ‘gravity’ theory of trade  – otherwise known as double the distance and halve the trade.

This is why, even with the Commonwealth conference currently in the UK, ‘global Britain’ is a sentiment from the nineteenth century rather than a realistic aspirational achievement for the twentyfirst.



  1. Sean Danaher -

    A good graphic but the accuracy needs to be checked

    The Irish one is ceartinly incorrect as by far the largest trading partner for Ireland is the US at around 25% whereas the UK is around 13%. In three years out of the last 5 the UK was pipped by Belgium into third place, though it was second last year I think.

    There is a link in our data sources section to the MIT trade database if anyone has the time to check!

    1. Graham -

      The heading is “Major Trading Partner in Europe & surrounding areas” so may exclude Americas & others.

      Interesting as a graphic, but I’d like to see some statistics as well.

      But isn’t the Euro really a devalued Deutschmark, allowing Germany economic hegemony?

  2. Peter May -

    Sorry, my mistake, have altered the text to make clear – it is the major IMPORT partners of each country.
    And I don’t know if it was honestly designed that way but the Euro has certainly resulted in German economic hegemony. Now they’re hooked on it they won’t be in favour of any changes and even if they might it will be electorally very difficult!

    1. Sean Danaher -

      Yes this is ceartinly correct for Ireland then. It is one of the few countries which imports more from the UK than it exports. This makes Rees Moggs threat of a punative beef tariffs less than credible

      One of the big problems with Ireland is it still had a massive debt designed in Euros from the time of the GFC and subsequent bailout. Buyout is difficult.

      There are winners and losers in the Euro and I saw a paper recently which determined that the Netherlands was the main beneficiary will try to dig it out

      1. Sean Danaher -

        if you haven’t listened to the Ireland and Europe podcast (as advertised in my last post) what is interesting in terms of the Euro is the first few minutes when ordinary Dubliners are stopped in the street. Two comments were it is essentialy a German currency and that the UK was right not to join the Euro.

  3. Peter May -

    Brown was a disaster for PFI but absolutely spot on for the Euro and the Financial Crisis….
    What I can’t understand is why having changed from the UK£ to the Irish punt the Irish never twigged that that gave them additional and independent power but decided instead to adopt another foreign currency. In fact if they had wanted to lose their sovereign currency they would have been much better off going back to the UK£ in which there would be much more likelihood, because of the North, that the Bank of England would remain lender of last resort.
    Meanwhile not good news from the Eurozone:

    1. Samuel Johnson -

      Have a read, if you haven’t, of Michael Lewis’s Vanity Fair article on the Irish experience of the crash (part of a series, all very entertaining and with a fantastic eye for details missed locally or more amusingly reported by an outsider).

      The bit where Pat Neary comes on TV to provide reassurance and he describes the reaction is priceless. “Fuck, is that the guy in charge of the money. Time to panic”. (as best I can remember)

      The people, like others in Europe, would trust a German banker before an Irish politician. The euro was not responsible for bad bank regulation in Ireland. It unites us and we’ll take the rough with smooth. The temptation for politicians to misuse a currency to hide from the consequences of their decisions is too great. It’s a question of who one trusts and doesn’t. We can revisit later if necessary

      1. Peter May -

        I’m of the view that trusting a banker of any sort before a politician is dangerous. Bankers are usually permanent and tend to exploit whilst having a (government) licence to print money.
        Politicians are not usually permanent and can generally be voted out…

      2. Sean Danaher -

        I hadn’t read the article: I presume this is the one you mean https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2011/03/michael-lewis-ireland-201103

        It captures the spirit of the time quite well. It should have been clear to a 3 year old that it was a bubble. There was one year where more houses were built in Ireland with a population of 4.5M than in the UK with a population of 65M. I agree that the Euro had nothing to do with the crash but all the editors at Progressive Pulse tend to favour MMT rather than neoclassical economics and having a sovereign currency is essential for MMT policy.

        An unexpected outcome is the current housing shortage, homelessness and high rents in Ireland as almost no house building happened in the years after the crisis.

  4. Andrew -

    “Turkey is Germany’s choice” – looks to me as though they have both chosen China, no?

    The US flag at the top of Morocco – is that Gibraltar?

    What does an export-coloured map look like?

    1. Peter May -

      You’re right. (I wish I’d done flags ‘O’ level).
      Gibraltar does indeed seem to import from the US but I wonder if being such a small place this was upset by a large ?defence item from the US? (Another small island, Malta is more orthodox and imports from Italy).
      As for an export map – I’ll have to get even deeper into map porn to see if there is one…

      1. Andrew -

        No problem.

        Defence imports to Gibraltar? More than food and water and so on? We can understand why Spain is not top of the list, but not the UK or Germany either. Looks to be Lebanon/US and Israel/US too.

        Malta/Italy and Cyprus/Greece are more orthodox. Interesting differences between the Baltic states – one importing from its fellow states, one from Russia, and one from Germany.

        But German exports seem to dominate Europe, Russia in its periphery (more than just oil and gas, presumably?), and China in the near Middle East.

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