Monday, 16 April 2018

Virtue signalling should be kept out of trade policy

Leaving aside that Cecilia Malmstrom has zero democratic mandate, what we see here is classic EU vanity. This is the EU putting into action The Declaration on Trade and Women’s Economic Empowerment adopted recently at the WTO ministerial meeting in Buenos Aires. It is not without its critics.

How that then manifests in EU trade policy remains to be seen, however it is sure to lead to the EU making invasive demands. This is the creeping cultural imperialism not just of the EU but of the entire global rules based system which is increasingly captured by politically correct groupthink in the guise of UN Sustainable Development Goals. 

This hooks in well with the case The Leave Alliance has made from day one; that the EU is increasingly a middleman - an agent of the globalist agenda. The danger is that global governance becomes global government, creating unaccountable institutions much like the EU but on a global scale. We increasingly see trade used as a vehicle for export of technical governance but we see that role expanding to include labour standards and social policy. 

Clearly there is a case for international labour standards in that we can't have Filipino slave labour working our fishing boats in our own waters, and we have to eliminate unfair labour competition. Trade policy must have a social conscience, not least to avoid democratic backlashes which lead to protectionist governments.

The problem, though, is that we have come full circle. The technical governance of social issues will creep further into trade governance to the point of constraining popular sovereignty to a similar extent to that of the EU. This defines the political battlefield for the new generation as we head toward a global technocracy dominated by political elites and academic functionaries brainwashed in the latest fads, not least gender equality. This is where leftist thinking creeps in, seeking equality of outcome rather than equality of opportunity.  

As much as that is dangerous, it is also, probably, counter productive. Cultural conditionality in trade helps no one. Where women are empowered in the world it is because they themselves have fought for it, not because of any Western cultural intervention. Wherever we have tried we have made things worse. 

Demands for rights and equality usually comes with increases in wealth, which is why trade policy should contain itself to that aim alone and let politics do the rest. It is not for us to use trade to leverage domestic policy in the developing world. It always has unintended consequences.

What makes it doubly offensive is the EU using its clout to force trade liberalisation on African states in the process of trying to build up their domestic tax base instead of relying on mineral wealth (with all the death that goes with it). When the EU is dumping agricultural surpluses on Africa, it's totally hypocritical. 

Both the US and the EU use brute force in trade to force Africa to open its markets to Western subsidised surpluses, collapsing any domestic production capability - which increases the risk of famine. 

Between that and sending in EU seabed hoovers to destroy inshore fish stocks, the EU's murderous trade policy is driving migration causing thousands to die in the sea, and thousands more perishing on the journey to the Mediterranean. How any of this is striking a blow for Women's equality? How does any of this advance the interests of women - or humanity in general? 

This is why I despise the narcissism of remainers who believe their faith in the EU cult is an indication of virtue. The EU likes to pretend it is a progressive force in the world but the butchery of its trade policy tells a wholly different story. This is why African states are looking to regional trade blocs so that they don't have to sign deals with the EU.

Moreover this is more of the same folly in chasing headlines over progress. The idiocy of the EU is chasing bilateral deals, undermining the multilateral system, complicating matters when the global effort is to simplify trade.

Sadly, the UK government has adopted this same folly. As conceptually mistaken as it is, Britain doesn't have the clout to push cultural agendas through trade like the EU does - and nor should we - but this is evidence that our civil service are still in the Brussels mindset and are playing the game by the old rules. This needs to change. We need to focus on commerce.

This is ultimately what makes Brexit necessary. From the get go it limits the ability of the EU to impose this on us, and secondly it means we can at least influence the UK government and campaign against it. We might then help to restore some sanity to the global system and put an end to the mission creep, lest we have to go through this all over again. 

The challenge before us is to build a global rules based system but one which is accountable and allows democracy to breathe. If we fail in that then we drift toward a global super-EU of privatised regulation - serving a a tyrannical device for globalist elites and a petri dish for their sociopathic social experiments. Far from creating the peace it risks destroying nearly a hundred years of progress. 

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