It's a quote that Brexiters are fond of repeating. That most GDP growth is outside of the EU. And of course they are right, some countries are growing faster that EU members, but as with all statistics the devil is in the detail.
The worlds fastest growing economy is Ethiopia. Over the last decade it has seen GDP growth of circa 8% per annum. This is to be welcomed, but it does not make it a rich country
If Ethiopia became part of the EU, it would be the largest member state, both physically (4 times the size of the UK) and by population (102m). It would also be the poorest. Its per capita GDP is less than 3% that of Ireland's.
So who should we trade with, Ethiopia or Ireland? The answer is of course both. But do we?
China is of course Ethiopia's largest trading partner, as they are leading foreign investment into the country. But if we look at the top 20 exporters into Ethiopia we see 7 EU members - Italy, Sweden, Germany, France, Belgium, the UK and the Netherlands in that order. EU membership obviously doesn't stop us trading with Ethiopia, nor does it stop Italy doing so by 3 times as much as we do. And of course the EU and Ethiopia trade under the auspices of an EBA (Everything But Arms) agreement which gives Ethiopia duty and quota free access to European markets.
By contrast our exports to Ireland (£34bn) are massive compared to Ethiopia (£200m). Indeed Ireland imports 10 times as much from the UK than Ethiopia does from the entire world. So while there is plenty of opportunity to increase trade with the latter, only a fool would risk our trade with the former in order to do so. Unfortunately in the shape of Rees-Mogg, Johnson, Fox, Farage etc one thing we are not short of is fools.