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UK risks lasting economic scars from Covid and Brexit, OECD warns

UK risks lasting economic scars from Covid and Brexit, OECD warns

The UK will need to invest heavily in digital infrastructure and drive through reforms to raise productivity if it is to repair long-term economic damage left by the Covid-19 crisis and the effects of Brexit, the OECD said on Wednesday.

Britain’s economy is one of the hardest hit by the pandemic among the 37 tracked by the international organisation, which said UK gross domestic product was set to be 10.1 per cent smaller at the end of 2020 than it was a year earlier and to recover only some of the ground in 2021, with growth of 7.6 per cent.

These forecasts are contingent on the course of the virus, and the extent of restrictions needed to contain it, but the UK’s prospects are even more uncertain because of the risk of a disorderly exit from the EU single market, which the OECD said could depress GDP by 5 per cent over two years.

Further public investment would be needed in digital infrastructure, such as high-speed broadband in deprived or rural areas, and the government could do more to push the transition to green technology, for example by making support to businesses in polluting industries conditional on switching to cleaner processes.

“Actions taken to address the pandemic and decisions made on future trading relationships will have a lasting impact on the UK’s economic trajectory for years to come, so they should be in line with long-term objectives,” said Laurence Boone, the OECD’s chief economist. “Productivity growth in service sectors will have to accelerate significantly for the recovery to be long-lasting and sustainable,” she said.

The immediate challenge is to support low-income households and get people back into good jobs, it found. Alvaro Santos Pereira, the OECD’s director of country studies, said higher unemployment would have “a massive impact” if it

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Disorderly Brexit could damage UK’s economic recovery from Covid, says OECD

Disorderly Brexit could damage UK’s economic recovery from Covid, says OECD

Britain’s economy faces a double risk to recovery from a disorderly Brexit as the coronavirus pandemic drags down growth, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has warned.



a car parked on a sidewalk: The UK car industry and food and textiles producers could be hit hardest by a disorderly Brexit, suffering a fall in exports of more than 30%.


© The Guardian
The UK car industry and food and textiles producers could be hit hardest by a disorderly Brexit, suffering a fall in exports of more than 30%.

On the eve of a critical EU leaders’ summit in Brussels, the influential Paris-based thinktank said the Covid crisis would further complicate a disorderly Brexit as companies were less prepared for the end of the transition period, having diverted attention away from leaving the EU.

It warned that failure to secure a free trade agreement before the UK leaves the Brexit transition period at the end of December would leave the economy 6.5% lower in the next few years than would have been the case if existing arrangements with the EU had been maintained.

In a development with potential to cause severe disruption for cross-border trade, it said a disorderly Brexit would have the most significant impacts for manufacturing, with the UK car industry, food and textiles producers hardest hit, suffering a fall in exports of more than 30%.

Álvaro Pereira, the director of the country studies branch at the OECD, said: “We know Covid has been the largest economic shock and social shock in the last few decades all across the world. Brexit obviously compounds the issue.

“The most important thing in the next few days and months is to focus on a deal, so the closest possible relationship is established between the UK and EU. Both parties lose if there is no deal.”

Publishing its first major economic survey of the UK since 2017, the OECD said a disorderly Brexit had potential to compound the risks to the British economy from

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