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KPMG: UK trade to triple by 2050 thanks to new tech

Jun 26
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New technology is set to drive UK trade forward over the next three decades despite the impact of Brexit, according to new research from KPMG.

On balance, the consulting firm believes that the UK will become more open going forward, even after leaving the EU, thanks to investment in innovation and technological change.

Under one scenario, dubbed “technology convergence”, KPMG predicted that trade with the rest of the world could rise to £1.8 trillion by 2030, increasing further to £4 trillion – more than three times higher than the 2018 level – by 2050.

Factoring in the disruptive effects of a no-deal Brexit, the same scenario would see an initial slump in trade followed by a partial recovery to £1.3 trillion by 2030, with further growth taking the figure to £2.8 trillion over the following 20 years.

The scenario is predicated on the belief that mobility costs will be reduced by new technology; industrial and high-end consumer goods operations will have heavily adopted 3D printing; and the potential for share-of-services trade – particularly important for a service-based economy such as the UK – will have increased.

Under a more optimistic scenario, changes driven by advances in communication technologies could see international trade expand to £5.4 trillion by 2050.

Less positively, if AI and machine learning prove to be the biggest drivers of change, by 2050 UK trade could increase marginally to £2.5 trillion, KPMG claimed.

“Our research’s central scenario highlights if a Brexit deal isn’t reached, a no-deal could have an adverse impact on the UK trade volumes over the next decade,” explained Yael Selfin, Chief Economist at KPMG UK.

“Some of this can be mitigated by capitalising on the rapid growth of Asia Pacific, which is fast-changing the balance of economic power in the global economy. Companies need to keep abreast of consumers in these countries and how these markets can offer opportunities for growth.”

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