10:35 | 12/06/2016 Cooperation
British business competitiveness will suffer if Britons vote to leave the Europe Union, the head of the World Trade Organisation warned during a visit to London on Tuesday.
WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo
WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo joins a chorus of international figures, including Bank of England Governor Mark Carney and International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Christine Lagarde, who have said that a British exit from the EU would have damaging economic consequences.
Two polls published on Tuesday show Britons narrowly favour remaining in the EU, in contrast to surveys released on Monday which showed the campaign for Brexit ahead.
Such pergent polls have made it difficult to predict the outcome of the vote on June 23 on whether Britain should remain part of the EU, a choice with far-reaching consequences for politics, the economy, defence, diplomacy and trade.
Britain gets preferential export terms for 60% of the goods it sells abroad -- including the 47% of its exports that go to the EU and the 13% that go to other countries with EU trade deals.
Azevedo has already said that Britain would have to renegotiate its relationship with the rest of the World Trade Organisation, which could take years or decades, and he reiterated that it would not be a simple job.
Britain might also need to negotiate at the WTO to keep other rights that are currently bound up with its EU membership, such as free movement of people and the right to run public utilities as monopolies, he said./.