Wednesday, 30 August 2017

A question of continuity

So Liam Fox wants to copy and paste existing EU trade deals. A few thoughts on that. Firstly, if you're a remainer and find cause to whine about this, grow up. Seriously. It's perfectly sound. This was always the most obvious approach to separation and it's an entirely sensible approach.

The problem with it is that it can only really replicate the tariff aspects of EU trade agreements. That's because the rest of the content functions through EU agencies, committees and working parties. We would have to either scrap those aspects or nominate and existing dispute resolution body.

As to the sections on regulatory harmonisation, this activity can be kicked up to global regulatory bodies. And yes, that is feasible because that's exactly what the EU does. eg Vehicle standards kicked out to UNECE.

For the most part little renegotiation is required. This can all be done by exchange of letters. Because we are maintaining current WTO schedules it isn't difficult - but all will have to be revisited eventually. As to MRAs and customs cooperation, that's all going to depend on what the Brexit deal looks like. This will shape the outcome.

What this approach does not cover is cooperation agreements between EU agencies and international regulators. Inter-agency deals and MoUs will be the most difficult to replicate because we have no equivalent bodies. This is where we will have to either establish new relationships or negotiate with the EU to participate in theirs.

So in the round, as an approach it's only half the job and there is still a lot of work to do. Thankfully this is less of a headache because this the one aspect of Brexit where we do have some very good people on the case.

If this process can be completed then even a no deal Brexit will retain some basic trade functionality. That is not to say that WTO option is not a disaster. It just means we won't have to resort to unilateral trade liberalisation. As far as it goes, it's the right approach but only goes some of the way to replacing our existing relations. No panacea.

I do have to say though, of Vince Cable especially, that the reactionary criticism over this is irrational, unhinged and totally unwarranted. Brexit scepticism is fine. Whingeing is pathetic. Yes, some third countries can choose to frustrate the process if they want but they go to the back of the queue. Trade is a two way street. It's a zero sum game if third countries choose to frustrate the process - which is why the hyperventilation is largely just remainer gaslighting.

As usual we're getting the "why leave the EU if we can only copy the deal the EU has?". This is disingenuous and dumb. This is the process of exit. This is the preparatory work we have to do before we start building new relationships. This is necessary for immediate continuity. Once we leave we will individually seek out refinements and progressions.

No comments:

Post a Comment