Posts Tagged 'International Trade'

Straitjacket of EU membership laid bare over China

Following on from the previous post about David Cameron’s inauspicious jaunt to China, we find a report on the BBC that is helpful in reinforcing why EU membership is a straitjacket for a country like the UK.

Irrespective of whether a free trade agreement of the type Cameron has called for is a good thing or a bad thing for the UK, the fact remains the UK cannot form such a trade relationship with China even if it wants to because the EU does not let member states make such agreements.  Any trade agreement with China would have to be made between Beijing and Brussels.

The UK and its business community can be as outward facing as they like, but unless the EU – with its slow moving bureaucracy, 28 member state bloc and all the competing interests that throws up – makes a deal, the UK is powerless to act.  Even if the EU does make a deal, it may still fall far short of what would give the UK and its economic sector maximum benefit.

It is constraints such as these which demonstrate once again that the UK could only seize all opportunities that are in its interests if it were independent.

There are many positive reasons for leaving the EU and its Little Europe mentality.  Opening up other markets to our goods and services and accessing overseas goods and services more cheaply than we do now is just one of them.  Another is being able to speak with our own voice, in our own interests, and helping to formulate the global rules and regulations concerning trade, as members of the global organisations where we have no seat because the EU ‘represents’ us.

For the UK to be able to maximise its influence and potential and seize opportunities, it has to walk tall on the global stage as an independent nation.

The first step in that process is to recognise the EU is and always was intended to be about centralising political power; economic benefits, where they arise, are merely incidental.  So for the good of our country it is imperative that we free ourselves from the EU straitjacket.

The truth that EuroDave Cameron dare not speak

The BBC reports:

Of course, there is no mention by EuroDave or the BBC, replete with its alloted task and funding from the EU to spread the federalist word, that this sales push has limitations.  This is because the UK and China do not have a trade agreement.

The truth is the UK is not allowed to makes its own agreement with China.  The trade deal and the relationship is between the EU and China.  The UK therefore has to work within the confines of the EU-Sino agreement.  This trade delegation is nothing more than a sales team working within someone else’s rules.

The EU elephant is right there, standing proudly in the room.  But EuroDave and the BBC are desperately pointing away from it and inviting everyone to watch the birdie instead.   Rather than developing a truly Global Britain, EuroDave and his fellow EU cheerleaders are trying to keep this country wrapped in the suffocating straitjacket of Little Europe.

In the absence of candid honesty from the political class and the media, please help to spread word of the reality by sharing this information.

The Hannan paradigm

The story we covered earlier concerning Lord O’Donnell’s puff piece, in support of handing more power over the political process to civil servants and Parliamentary has-beens, has attracted the ire of Douglas Carswell.  Fair enough.

But this has subsequently prompted Daniel Hannan to weigh in, after spotting an opportunity to make one of his favourite points – related to comments made by O’Donnell on a different occasion – about how EU membership prevents the UK from negotiating trade accords with non-EU states.  The problem with Hannan’s observation is that while true, it doesn’t come close to getting to the heart of why a UK exit from the EU is vital.

The prior comments of O’Donnell that Hannan fixes upon are these:

Britain is, above all, an open trading nation, but unfortunately our main trading partner, the euro area, is unlikely to increase its demand for UK exports very much in the short or medium terms. Our historical trading patterns, which have been so beneficial in the past, are likely to condemn us to the global slow lane for years to come. Our share of world trade has declined over the last decade by more than that of all our G20 partners.

This prompts Hannan to postulate that:

[…] Ever since the mid-1960s, as Hugo Young showed inThis Blessed Plot, the campaign to mesh Britain into European political structures has been led by our permanent functionaries. It wasn’t that they were unpatriotic. Rather, they had made a calculation, understandable in the context of its time, that economic growth would be concentrated in Western Europe.

Today, no one makes such a calculation. Every continent in the world is growing except Europe. Britain, the only one of the EU’s 28 members that conducts the majority of its trade outside Europe, is especially well placed to benefit from the growth overseas: we are linked by language and law, habit and history, to the places that are doing best. When even Sir Humphrey has internalised that point, our exit is just a matter of time.

What Hannan doesn’t explain, perhaps because he hasn’t grasped the reality of the genuinely bigger picture before us, is the more crucial point that Britain, because of its EU membership, has no direct influence at the level where trade rules and regulations affecting manufacturing and the standards for a vast number of goods are decided.  Namely around the tables of various global bodies and organisations where no EU member has a seat.

While Britain’s ability to strike trade deals is important, of far greater importance is our ability to inform and shape, in our interest, the rules that will bind most countries around the world that are signed up to various conventions and treaties – and which consequently impact international trade deals involving most of the goods we make and most of what we buy.  This is what membership of ‘Little Europe’ denies us and why we have to get out.

Leaving the EU is not an end in itself.  It is merely an enabler that gives us an opportunity to fight our corner in our competitive interest, in the forums where the rules and standards are made.  The hard work therefore does not end when we simply have the ability to strike agreements with other countries on our own terms, rather than the consolidated and diluted terms suiting 27 other European countries.

Hannan’s trade paradigm is only a narrow part of the imperative for leaving the EU.  If he understood and articulated the bigger story from his substantial platform, he may actually help more people understand the benefits of British independence.

Global Governance has turned the EU into ‘Little Europe’

We do not have ‘global government’.  There is no such thing.

We do however have ‘global governance’.  This is all too real.

Most people in the UK and across Europe do not see or even realise the existence of global governance, because of its remote and distributed nature.  All that is seen is the face of governance that advertises and promotes itself – such as the EU and national governments in capital cities.  Increasingly, people are becoming familiar with the raft of diktats, regulations and laws that apparently spawn from the very visible EU and are implemented by national governments.

What is not understood is that most of what is handed down from the EU does not originate in Brussels and is not shaped in Brussels – it is handed down from global bodies that make up the system of global governance.  The EU is only a proxy, a delivery mechanism if you will.  While it governs a regional bloc of nation states, the EU takes its direction and instructions from global bodies, where the true power and influence truly rests.  The development of this network of bodies, on which most individual countries are able to represent themselves and their interests, has trumped the EU to become this country’s real supreme governor.

Global governance has neutered the power of the supposedly mighty EU to such a degree, a truer description of it today is ‘Little Europe’.

As a consequence, and in direct contradiction of the mantra so often uttered by the Europhiles, the influence of EU member states has been sharply reduced on the world stage. The 28 EU member states do not have their own voice on the global bodies.  The EU has one seat and speaks for all 28 at once, the EU negotiation position being a messy compromise of watered down competing EU member state interests.

This is in sharp contrast to countries such as Norway and Switzerland, which have their own seats on the global bodies and can advance their own national interests, undiluted and directly.   So as regulations and laws are formulated by these bodies in their power centres, such as Geneva, Montreal and Basle among others, Norway and Switzerland have as much influence in shaping the regulations as the EU representatives, and substantially more than every EU member state, including the United Kingdom.  All of which underlines the lie propagated by the Europhiles that countries like Norway have to implement what the EU tells it, without any say in what is handed down.

What does this mean for the UK?

In short, this country’s political class, which is trying to shackle this country to the EU middle man for political reasons, is waiving the opportunity to influence and direct input into the regulations and laws that are formulated at a level above the EU, and implemented by just about all of our trading partners.

Too much of what is decided does not suit British interests, but the UK’s capacity to shape these global regulations is hamstrung because instead of being at the top table and having influence, our politicians have given up our seat to the EU.  So the UK instead sits on the floor, knowing what it wants from the menu, but letting someone else order for us what it thinks we should have and throwing us what has been cooked up, cold and part eaten.

The EU model of government is past its ‘use by’ date.  The politicians are trying to tie us in to a system more than half a century old, that is now obsolete and detrimental to the interests and prospects of a nation such as the UK, with an economy and trading base that is among the biggest in the world.  It’s a big world out there and the UK can play a big part in how it works.  Instead, our blinkered politicians and their big business proxies want to keep us locked into Little Europe and its shrinking sphere of influence.

For political – and as this post shows, economic reasons – getting out of the European Union is an imperative.  But it is not an end in itself.  Freeing ourselves from the Brussels bureaucracy is only an enabler.  It merely provides this country with an opportunity to have real influence, a direct role in governance and a big part in shaping the rules of trade and the standards for products and services.

If we want the UK, our country, to be more successful, if we aspire to realise more of our potential, then we need to leave Little Europe and its passe vision and structures behind.  We need to rediscover our confidence and regain or independence.  Only then can we stake our place in the world and develop trade and partnership agreements on our own terms.

Leaving the EU is the starting point for determining our future and improving our prospects.  We have a choice, be part of Little Europe, or become Big Britain.

Sure Ken, leaving this lot would really damage the UK

Leaving the EU would damage the UK according to EUphile fanatic, Ken Clarke.  Apparently, leaving the EU would result in fewer jobs and higher prices.

Well, it might if the EU was the same as the single market, but the two are very different beasts.  Clarke is demonstrating hubris born of him being wedded to the advent of a single political entity based in Brussels, with member states assimilated into one body politic and in control of nothing of consequence.  To realise his dream, Clarke is making deliberately deceitful and misleading threats such as the one above concerning trade.

But when it comes to letting the EU determine for us what trade agreements we sign up to and what conditions we have imposed on us, all is not as rosy as Clarke would have us imagine it to be.

News filtering out from Canada reveals that the trade agreement currently being negotiated between Ottawa and Brussels – the biggest deal for Canada since its agreement with the US – is in trouble.  Canada’s Globe and Mail explains that:

Canadian trade negotiators are running up against bureaucratic infighting among European Union officials, who are backing away from earlier commitments in talks for a Canada-EU trade deal – increasing the chances Stephen Harper will return home empty-handed after a week-long trip to the region.

One of the Canadian negotiators has gone on to reveal that:

The EU side seems increasingly incapable of getting its act together to close a deal.  The various competing directorates within the EU are fighting each other, which is leading to erratic moves such as backing away from earlier commitments – actions that are on the verge of bad faith. The EU has to demonstrate it’s serious about cutting a deal.

While the EU exhibits bad faith with the Canadians, the UK is powerless to hammer out a deal independently with the Canadians because we are not at that Top Table, so beloved of David Cameron, and do not have the right to agree anything outside the EU’s common position.  This is British influence in the EU laid bare.

It is against this backdrop that, according to Cameron, Clarke and the rest of the pro-EU incompetents, the UK would be harmed by extracting itself from the EU’s political structures.  Yeah, it will be really painful leaving behind a grouping that can’t get its act together on anything other than how to afford itself ever more control over us.

That much discussed trade between the UK and EU

In the run up to the Commons debate on national referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU, many talking heads kept referring to the UK’s trade with other EU member states.

Time and again on various news programmes we heard pro-EU advocates proclaim than anywhere between 40-50% of the UK’s trade is with the EU and therefore leaving the EU would be devastating to our economy.  Setting aside the flaws in the inherent suggestion that leaving the political structures of the EU would automatically mean we would lose our ability to trade with remaining EU member states, very little focus was directed at who holds the relative power in UK-EU trade.

A written answer in the House of Commons yesterday goes some way to explaining why so little attention was given to the question of who would come off worst from a trade dispute between the UK and EU.  For it was confirmed that the EU continues to do better out of trade with the UK than the UK does. In fact the Balance of Trade deficit the UK has with the EU has widened:

Mr Bone: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what the size of the UK trade deficit with the EU was in each of the last five years.

Mr Davey: As published by the Office of National Statistics, the balance of trade between the United Kingdom and the European Union over the last years were as follows:

UK’s balance of trade in goods and services with the EU
£ million
2006 -29,616
2007 -35,235
2008 -28,582
2009 -27,421
2010 -35,534

While a number of commentators were quick to mention that Honda cars are made in Swindon and Nissan cars are made in Sunderland to take advantage of the UK’s ability to trade within the EU customs union, even with these manufacturing activities we still buy far more from the EU member states than they buy from us.  If both car makers moved to the continent it would only increase our balance of trade deficit with the EU and actually make us an even more valuable trading partner.

The figures make clear there is a vested interest in EU member states maintaining strong trade links with the UK, irrespective of whether the UK is self governing or ruled from Brussels.  To cite a loss of trade as a rationale for staying firmly inside the EU, and subverting the right of the British people to decide how this country is governed and by whom, is simply dishonest.

H.R. 2594

(With thanks to Alfred for his tip on the Tips/Stories page)

A seemingly innocuous title maybe, but one that conceals a course of action that could signal the start of a trade war between the EU and the United States, at a time when Brussels is firefighting sovereign debt crises and staring down the barrel of the Euro disintegrating.

In the US House of Representatives, House Resolution 2594 was introduced in July this year.  It read:

To prohibit operators of civil aircraft of the United States from participating in the European Union’s emissions trading scheme, and for other purposes.

In other words, the US Government is making it illegal for American airline operators to pay the EU’s tax on aircraft carbon emissions.  The full details of the Bill are shown below:

In a rare show of bi-partisan cooperation, the Republicans and Democrats on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed the Bill unanimously.  It now goes before the Senate and if it passes there all that stands between it being rejected or becoming law is the signature of President Obama.  Among the key paragraphs of the Bill are these two notable assertions used as justification for the US position:

(3) The European Union’s extraterritorial action is inconsistent with long-established international law and practice, including the Chicago Convention of 1944 and the Air Transport Agreement between the United States and the European Union and its member states, and directly infringes on the sovereignty of the United States.

(6) There is no assurance that ETS revenues will be used for aviation environmental purposes by the European Union member states that will collect them.

It is not just the US lining up against the EU on this matter.  In the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) no less than 26 countries are opposed to the EU’s arbitrary measure.

After years of acting with impunity against the interests of the citizens of the member states, the EU now finds itself facing proper concerted opposition to its behaviour.  This could become part of a snowball effect as Brussels comes under attack from multiple directions on multiple issues and add to a sense of crisis across the political class within the bloc.  We are now living in what the Chinese call ‘interesting times’.

Fair Trade, ethics and gesture politics

An exchange on Twitter with the free thinking and autonomous @untwining (Lisa Amphlett) who authors the excellent blog All About The Voluntary recently led to a decision that one of us would blog about Fair Trade.

This being the start of Fairtrade Fortnight, Lisa pointed me to a must-read piece in yesterday’s Telegraph by Philip Booth who makes a powerful argument that Fair Trade is neither fair, nor good for trade. Booth points out that ‘researchers sympathetic to fair trade have suggested that only 25 per cent of the extra price paid by consumers finds its way back to producers’.  He also points out that:

Fair trade is supposed to bring better working conditions to poor producers, together with higher prices and better social infrastructure. Questions have been asked about whether monitoring in the supply chain is sufficiently robust, and examples of unsatisfactory practice have been found. Furthermore, there are costs for producers. Poor farmers have to pay considerable sums to join up and often have to organise their businesses in particular ways: it is not suitable for all producers, especially in the poorest countries.

This is a consequence of Fair Trade’s structure that seems to be swept under the carpet or simply unknown to people who want to feel they are doing something ethical and playing a part in tackling poverty by choosing to buy products labelled as Fair Trade.  Booth’s piece also highlights an anti-competitive element of Fair Trade as he explains:

Fairtrade schools and parishes have to commit themselves to selling Fairtrade products. This is unfortunate for producers – who may be as poor – for other schemes, such as the Rainforest Alliance or Bird Friendly, that are designed to protect the environment.  And, of course, if we transfer our allegiance to a fair trade producer from a non-fair trade producer in a poor country, what happens to the farmer who loses his customer base?

It appears that despite these justifiable concerns, the government is pressing ahead with a supposedly ethical Fair Trade policy at the expense of taxpayers who have no way of holding politicians to account for it.  The plan is to introduce a requirement to purchase a minimum of 50% Fair Trade tea and coffee, and it will apply to central Government departments, prisons and the armed forces under Government Buying Standards.  This was confirmed in a written answer from DEFRA in Parliament yesterday… (click to enlarge)

What really stands out here is that last paragraph, where there is a clear recognition that the policy will result in increased costs to the taxpayer and that the decision has been taken without prior evidence of equivalent costs having been submitted by the Fairtrade Foundation.  Convinced by the righteousness of the policy government is pressing ahead regardless.  The public is entitled to evidence based policy making which is not happening.

It should be a matter of concern to everyone that government is engaging in gesture politics at taxpayer expense to follow a supposedly ethical policy, that research shows has the capacity to harm people in poorer countries, by selecting produce generated within a system over which there are question marks that do not appear to have been critically evaluated.

Perhaps it is time for voters whose parish, borough or city councils have imposed a Fair Trade procurement policy to challenge their authority for evidence of the benefits to producers in poorer countries of Fair Trade – rather than anecdotes – and write to their MPs asking for the same to justify the additional cost being passed on to us.

Britain’s EU membership is in ________ interests

It’s fill in the blank time… It is a common refrain from the Europhiles, and those business leaders who benefit from cheap imported labour, that Britain’s EU membership is in our interests.

Perhaps it is more appropriate to fill in the blank with Europe’s – as a written answer in the House of Lords this week tells a very different story to the one peddled to we long suffering mushrooms, who are kept in the dark and fed shit by the political class (Hat tip: Ockham’s Razor). Lord Stoddart of Swindon saw fit:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what are the accumulated deficits or surpluses in the United Kingdom’s trade with the other European Union countries between 2000 and 2009 in (a) manufactured goods, (b) services, and (c) goods and services.

The reply (click on the image below to enlarge) shows an outflow of Pounds Sterling to pay for an influx of European goods.

The fact is the EU countries selling these goods to Britain will continue to do so regardless of whether or not we are members of the EU. There is absolutely no justification for surrendering political and legal sovereignty in order to trade with EU member states.

It makes one wonder why that idiot Cameron spends time trying to achieve more balanced trade with China when we are demonstrably incapable of achieving it with the rest of the EU.

Lucky Poland

We learn from the pages of EurActiv.com that:

Poland and Russia are due to sign an agreement in Brussels today (4 November) that will see Gazprom increase its deliveries to Warsaw by 38%. Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger said the treaty would have “EU legitimacy”.

Oettinger announced that he was going to look today “at the latest draft of the treaty on a confidential basis” but expressed confidence that the agreement would comply with EU legislation.

Isn’t that nice? One nation state, Poland, agrees a deal to buy the gas needed by its population with another nation state, Russia. Yet the deal is only considered ‘legitimate’ if a foreign, overseas body of unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats, who suck on the teat of hard pressed taxpayers across Europe and confer upon themselves privileges most can only dream of, say it is.

One wonders just what would happen if Poland told the EU that it is none of their damned business, that it will buy and sell gas as it wishes and completed the transaction regardless? You know, if it acted like a… what’s it called again? Ah yes, an independent and sovereign nation.


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