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In 2019, as a member of the EU, the UK wasn’t even in the top 10 OECD countries on their Services Trade Restrictiveness Index. In 2022, as a direct consequence of liberalizations made having left the EU, the UK ranked 2nd only to Japan. The liberalizations made which allowed for this significant change in ranking, were only possible due to leaving the EU. The Services trade represents over 70% of the UK economy, which made the UK an outlier within the EU – whose trade policy focuses primarily on Goods.


As a member of the European Union, the UK was unable to break into the Top 10 of 37 OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) members, on their list of which economies were the least restrictive on services trade –- their Services Trade Restrictiveness Index.

In 2022, having been able to liberalise in multiple sectors following departure from the EU, the UK was ranked 2nd out of the now 38 members (Costa Rica joined in 2021). The country ranked first out of the 38, was fellow non-EU member Japan.

The OECD wrote of the change in rank for the UK, “A large number of new legislations and regulatory amendments were introduced as a result [of leaving the EU], and some of these have implications for [the Services Trade Restrictiveness Index].

The OECD STRI report specifically calls out the Skilled Worker visa scheme; the accession to the WTO General Procurement Act (GPA); the regulatory changes to air transport services; the “open coast” policy for cabotage; the Financial Services Act; and the abolishment of the Low Value Consignment Relief.

Reference: https://issuu.com/oecd.publishing/docs/stri_policy_trends_up_to_2023_final

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