The European Commission’s latest demographic projections go out to 2060. They suggest that, for UK exporters, the rest of the EU will be a sharply-contracting market, with shrinkage comparable to “losing” the whole of Germany.

The USA, in contrast, will be an expanding market.

•  A good proxy for the productive potential of the population is “WAP” – working-age population – defined (by Eurostat and the UN) as those aged 15 to 64: the part of the whole population whose work and incomes provide for children at one end of the spectrum and for old-age pensioners at the other. This section of the population accounts for the bulk of an economy’s consumer spending. In developed countries the association between changes in GDP and WAP is quite strong; less so in developing and poor countries. Projections of WAP (by Eurostat in 2008 and by the United Nations in 2006) are useful “broad-brush” predictors of where export growth is likely to come from after 2015.

• Over the next 52 years, for British exporters, the rest of the EU will be a rapidly contracting market, EU-26 WAP shrinking from 293 million in 2008 to 238 million in 2060: a loss of 54 million (which happens to be almost exactly the 2008 WAP ofGermany, Europe’s biggest & the world’s third-biggest economy.


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