Since the 1990s, net exports have typically accounted for 10-20% of GDP. With Brexit, all of this now needs to be evaluated.
A large part of our goods exports are concentrated in a few sectors while services exports have become more broadly based and have indeed shown greater growth over the last two decades.
We run a merchandise trade export surplus and a services deficit typically.
Exports of services in 2015 were €121bn, exports of goods €112bn. Services require the transfer of bits and bodies over international borders, while trade requires the transfer of physical things.
Almost as important as whether we can trade easily with the UK when they crash chaotically out of the customs union (no is the answer), is how will we trade with the rest of the planet.
Being an island, we have to get “stuff” off the island to customers. Total services exports in 2015 to the EU/UK were €66/€23bn and imports €53/€12bn. Total merchandise exports in 2015 to the EU/UK were €58/€13bn and imports €40/16bn.