Free trade and the EU

I wrote this recently for Conservative Home, but would like to share it with readers here:

It is one of the ironies of life in the EU that an apparently good idea, more free trade with the USA, ends up with both left of centre and right of centre critics combining to condemn the way the EU has been doing it.

Don’t get me wrong. I think free trade creates more jobs and greater prosperity. Successive rounds of tariff reductions by GATT and the World Trade Organisation has helped power world growth and expanded exports and imports greatly in recent decades. My first criticism of the EU and TTIP is the eternal delays they have created. The idea of closer trade links was first seriously explored in 1990 at the time of the Transatlantic Declaration. 1995 saw the establishment of the Transatlantic Business Dialogue, which too wished to pursue freer trade rules bilaterally. If the UK had been free to negotiate our own trade deals instead of having to do it through the EU, I am sure we would have had a good trade deal with the USA years ago. Now some 25 years later we are still a long way off an EU/US Trade Agreement.

The EU concedes that it has been overtaken by the WTO. Half of all trade between the EU and the US is already tariff free, and the rest faces an average tariff of under 3%. It is good news the EU says it would be happy to surrender its 10% external tariff on cars. Why doesn’t it just do so? The US only charges 2.5% on cars imported from the UK or the rest of Europe, just one quarter of the high tax the EU imposes. The EU should just get on with it and remove the tariff. There are higher tariffs on some shoes and clothes that could also be cut to help consumers.

Because there are few tariffs left, the negotiations have become complex and are to do with rules and regulations more than with customs duties. The two sides are looking at ways of harmonising or co-ordinating difficult matters like Intellectual property, competition law, safety regulation of food and chemicals, public procurement and banking regulation. They are being drawn into areas of government which may limit the USA or the EU right to make their own decisions, in a way which will be all too familiar to UK voters who have considerable experience of the supranational EU intervening in our affairs.

Many on the left in the UK are alarmed by TTIP. I think they are wrong to conclude that the NHS will be damaged by it through offering rights to US health companies to compete in our monopoly health care in the public sector as this is expressly ruled out. However, they are right to ask how much power will the Agreement transfer from Parliament and government to this international agreement and the courts.? How will it affect employee rights, public procurement and other important domestic sensitivities?

The EU is busily trying to impede some areas of possible agreement. The French have already vetoed any possible agreement on audio visual industries. The EU is making heavy weather of negotiations on freer trade in agricultural produce, as the EU will not allow genetically modified product, has different views to the US on hormone treated beef and various pesticides. Some in the UK agree with the EU position on these matters. None of us wish to see risks taken with our health, and understand the caution of some EU regulators. It just means more delay and difficulty in ever reaching an Agreement which might mean something.

The TTIP for me is not an argument to stay with the EU, but another reason why I think the EU lets us down. It gives free trade a bad name with the left, by ensnaring the talks in difficult territory on health and safety, employee standards and public procurement. It means eternal delays in getting progress on tariffs and market access, areas with more positive pay offs for consumers. It means the UK cannot get on with it and shape an Agreement which we like and which suits us.

Thank heavens for the WTO. It has done most of the job for us in getting tariffs down. It’s a pity the EU cannot also do the same, and cannot find a way to further and hurry free trade that does not upset so many of us. The EU’s negotiation of the TTIP just looks like another clumsy EU power grab, allied to anti American rhetoric on sensitive topics which does not help anyone. The danger of that is the wrong kind of TTIP could strengthen the extraterritorial reach of the US legal system, the opposite aim to the claims by the EU.

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  1. Lifelogic
    Posted June 16, 2015 at 5:18 am | Permalink

    I agree with all that.

    The wrong kind of TTIP could indeed strengthen the extraterritorial reach of the US legal system. This would the lawyers but not many others. Far too many lawyers already, many actively damaging efficiency and wealth all over the place.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted June 16, 2015 at 7:23 am | Permalink

      This would benefit the lawyers but not many others – is what I meant to say.

      • Know-Dice
        Posted June 16, 2015 at 8:42 am | Permalink

        Couldn’t agree more.

        Lawyers and getting on with business don’t mix…

        • Lifelogic
          Posted June 16, 2015 at 11:23 am | Permalink

          Rather like adding sand to lubrication oil and then still expecting to win the race in many respects.

        • Hope
          Posted June 16, 2015 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

          Cameron still struggling to justify changing purdah so the govt might and our taxes can be used to fight for an in campaign. Previously the Tories thought it was a matter of credibility and integrity of politics for purdah to be in place, per Guido article today. It appears the letter from Liddington suggests the govt wants to work with those opposed but to continue to have a rigged referendum! Someone needs to ask Osborne or Cameron why he is intent on rigging the EU referendum in his favour. There is no justification and certainly none in Liddington’s letter.

          • Lifelogic
            Posted June 17, 2015 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

            Indeed, he wants to rig it because he knows it is fairly closely balanced (and for reasons it seems he cannot even tell us) he clearly wants to stay in.

            He also has no intention trying to negotiate anything of substance.

    • John E
      Posted June 16, 2015 at 9:09 am | Permalink

      The wrong kind of TTIP is exactly what is being negotiated with corporations being given power over governments. It’s not just the EU that would take away our sovereignty. This so called trade agreement is an equal threat in many ways.
      Having bought the U.S. Government the multinationals now want to be able to tell ours what to do.

  2. Leslie Singleton
    Posted June 16, 2015 at 5:35 am | Permalink

    Just read (and on the leftie BBC at that) that re purdah “Downing Street said Mr Cameron ……..was not seeking to “overly influence” the outcome of the campaign”. What a joke. Have they no idea, no shame? The same piece says that they want to time the Referendum so as “to increase turnout in pro EU areas”. Of course we knew it would be like this but it still comes as a bit of a shock. Cameron prevaricates at every turn and, lest any are unsure, to prevaricate means to walk a crooked path. Him in spades.

    Reply He has just agreed with Conservatives including myself who put down amendments to ensure the referendum is not held on May 5th next year but at a different time from other elections, and has agreed that there needs to be a period or purdah.

    • David Price
      Posted June 16, 2015 at 7:56 am | Permalink

      To Reply – Good, thanks for your efforts

      • Hope
        Posted June 16, 2015 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

        When is Cameron going to tell us what his negotiations are? He said the public are his boss, therefore it appears reasonable that. Should be informed before every EU official and head of state!

        Why is the UK still engaged in encouraging mass migration across the med to the EU, it will only encourage more to come. Stop them nearer the coast and take action where the problem arises.

        • David Price
          Posted June 17, 2015 at 9:48 am | Permalink

          Once they are on or in the water a skipper is obliged by the international law of the sea to aid anyone in distress and disembark them at a place of safety. My understanding is that neither the country of disembarkation nor the vessel’s flag country are under any obligation to accept them as immgrants or refugees.

          A “place of safety” can be difficult to define though and refoulage means it must be a place of safety so taking them back to where they came from isn’t a simple solution as it may not be “safe” and the obligation of rescue would not have been met.

          If naval vessels weren’t involved then it would fall on civilian and fishing vessels who would be inadequate to the task, so either you let them all drown or put in place a sufficient naval resource to at least prevent the drowning.

          We can’t solve the problems of the world though some action could probably be taken where the migrants originate. The EU simply has to address the whole issue of illegal immigration and migration, simple sharing out the pain rather than actually doing something about it is not a solution.

          The onus is on the EU politicians and agencies to establish and maintain a proper border which they have singularly failed to do but that does not remove the obligation to rescue those in distress.

          • David Price
            Posted June 17, 2015 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

            sorry – “refoulage ” should read “non-foulement”

          • David Price
            Posted June 18, 2015 at 6:15 am | Permalink

            this appears to have become orphaned from my earlier comment about the law of the sea in the context of the mediteranean migrants

      • David Price
        Posted June 17, 2015 at 5:15 am | Permalink

        Bit premature – are you sure he agreed to keep purdah, because it seems he won the vote to reject Bill Cash’s amendment to keep it.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted June 16, 2015 at 10:59 am | Permalink

      To reply:- Good, just the fact they Cameron can still choose the day, the funding is unequal, the BBC (and state sector) are hugely biased and they have a biased YES answer to the question then.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted June 17, 2015 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

        Plus now all of government can propagandise right up to the bell as no purdah.

    Posted June 16, 2015 at 5:48 am | Permalink

    The EU is inconsistent in regard to GM crops. It did make lots of noise in regard to Monsanto with this company delisting from the LSE as there was “no point” in continuing in the UK. But one saw Syngenta seemingly engaging in similar GM activities with the EU largely silent. I may stand corrected but I believe the EU has actually authorised certain Syngenta GM modified crops fairly recently. EU protectionism, its tariffs, are based on shifting sands of its member state inputs. There can be no logic with an organism such as the EU which changes from one animus to another at the blink of an eye.

    But JR, congratulations on your candid performance in yesterday’s Scots Bill Debate. Refreshing to hear you did not get stuck in some tedious verbal repetitive loop perhaps grandstanding on say a reference to the British Constitution saying time and time again it might be invalid since we do not have a written constitution.

    I admit I thought the Tory Party’s remark in the General Election that the Labour Party victory backed by the SNP would be a “severe threat” to the UK,- to be a piece of Electoral-ese. I’m sorry. SNP Amendment 67 :“(1A) In paragraph 1 of Schedule 4 (protection of Scotland Act 1998 from modification), delete “(2)(f) the Human Rights Act 1998.” in yesterday’s Scots debate was in ordinary-speak a deceitful backdoor way, a conjurers trick, for the SNP to undermine and present at least legal objections to the UK government to make a British Human Rights Law.
    I believe many Labour MPs joined forces with the SNP in the voting in attempt to undermine the legitimate government of the United Kingdom ( which on this occasion happens to be Tory )
    The ex-leader of the Scottish Labour Party recently indicated it could be 30 years before the Labour Party regains power. Let us all hope, including many loyal Labour Party members, loyal to the UK that is ) that 30 years proves a Great British Understatement. Labour are such a scallywag Party.

  4. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted June 16, 2015 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    I miss the biggest bone of contention in TTIP being discussed here, the ISDS. For a blog so worried about parliamentary sovereignty, shouldn’t ISDS be a little disconcerting? lawyers working in giant corporations in TTIP will function in private arbitration tribunals on both sides of the green table (sometimes judge, sometimes lawyer), beyond the reach of any parliament and suing sovereign states for damages. If Australia is already sued for billions by Philip Morris, for having dared to decide on plain packaging for cigarettes, I could well imagine large USA medical corporations threatening the UK with damages if it were to exercise its sovereign right to keep the NHS completely public over time.
    The EU and the US, with their well developed legal systems should be able to do this more democratically. This blog talks about tariffs, but the work is much more about harmonising specifications between the two blocks to facilitate trade under TTIP. That takes some time.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted June 16, 2015 at 8:03 am | Permalink

      Don’t you think 25 years is long enough?

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted June 16, 2015 at 10:26 am | Permalink

        @Brian Tomkinson: According to wikipedia, The TTIP negotiations were launched in February 2013 (both by Obama and Barroso) and will have started in earnest soon after. I once saw a programme about how many details that already involves for the free trade in cars and realised that it wasn’t as simple as I’d prenviously thought.

      • Hope
        Posted June 16, 2015 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

        No the UK does not need to be part of a political project to create an EU superstate to trade with it. Canada does not have to amalgamate with the U.S. to trade with it even though it is her largest market!

        This is old hat to conjure up fear what might happen if the UK left the EU. It might come as a surprise to PVL, Clarke, Heseltine and others that there are more countries outside the EU than inside and they do not have to join as a superstate to trade with each other or countries around the world.

    • acorn
      Posted June 16, 2015 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      Peter, it is probably becoming apparent to yourself, that the average UK citizen, knows a lot less about the EU, than the average continental citizen. UK governments like to keep it that way, it’s called “mushroom management”; keep them in the dark and feed them s**t.

      Unfortunately, the UK print and broadcast media, is not the place to learn anything about the EU or economics or finance. But, the print media will decide the outcome of the EU referendum. Unless, Coronation Street runs an “IN” story line for several weeks before the event and Eastenders runs an “OUT” storyline, resulting in mass confusion 😉

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted June 16, 2015 at 10:49 am | Permalink

        @Acorn: the internet may be a better source of information for those who are interested. Now it will become more focused on the UK-EU relationship.
        On the sceptic side there is, on the pro-side there is, on the sceptic side there is John Redwood, on the pro side there is Richard Corbett (with a great “Doorstep EU” app). I wouldn’t be surprised if Conservatives for Britain will set up a website. If someone knows a real anti-EU information side (with the emphasis on information) I don’t mind having a look there as well.

      • bluedog
        Posted June 16, 2015 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

        ‘…the average UK citizen, knows a lot less about the EU, than the average continental citizen.’

        That would be because the average UK citizen is completely disengaged from the EU and has no intention of becoming engaged.

      • sjb
        Posted June 16, 2015 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

        At time of writing, the UK broadcast media (on their websites) have failed to mention Draghi’s important victory at the CJEU today. [1] His ‘bazooka’ has been held to be legal 🙂

        There was scant mention of his statement at the European Parliament yesterday considering his topical remarks about the situation in Greece. For instance, “It should be absolutely clear that the decision on whether to conclude the review of the current programme and disburse further financial support to Greece lies entirely with the Eurogroup, so ultimately with euro area Member States. Hence this is a political decision that will have to be taken by elected policymakers, not by central bankers.”[2]

        Will his press conference after the ECB Governing Council Meeting tomorrow or the Eurogroup meeting on Thursday get the coverage merited by the (in)actions of the Greek government and the knock-on effect on financial markets?


        • acorn
          Posted June 17, 2015 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

          sjb, you make a strong point. The ECB Governing Council Meeting could be a game changer. You are likely aware that under the TARGET2 rules, either side can declare a disconnection with 14 days notice.

          I doubt the ECB will press the button but, Greece could. That would mean that the Greek Euro, would separate from the German (i.e. Eurosystem) Euro. The Greek Central Bank would then become the “lender of last resort” for Euro notes with a “Y” serial number. They would probably get the Russians to do international clearance for them; they would jump at the chance to stick one up the EU/USA.

          You can imagine that the club-med EU states thinking they would like a slice of that action. ;-(

      • Jerry
        Posted June 17, 2015 at 7:02 am | Permalink

        @Acorn; “the average UK citizen, knows a lot less about the EU, than the average continental citizen.”

        That is what the europhobes and successive Tory governments would like to think, trouble is that the internet (and even access to European satellite TV to some extent) has changed the ground rules, even if the average pleb can not get to grips with the actual EU documents via the various official web-portals [1] there are all number of sites from EU-centric to the likes of Wikipedia that will help them.

        • Jerry
          Posted June 18, 2015 at 7:04 am | Permalink

          @JR moderation; I note that we are not allowed to make mention of the legally accessible EU television/audio service – even if the URL needed to be removed, but why considering it is part of the official EU web-portal. Not even mention of moderation removal, Just the suggestion of a footnote to suggest that something is missing. Oh dear, what are some eurosceptics scared of, the un-spun facts?!

          Reply I did not have time to check it out.

          • Edward2
            Posted June 18, 2015 at 8:27 am | Permalink

            You consider Jerry, that a tv service made and paid for by the EU to be a good way of getting an unbiased view of the EU.

          • Jerry
            Posted June 18, 2015 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

            @Edward2; More europhobic nonsense. Stop arguing about service what you have obviously never used! The EBS service is the same sort of service as the live output from say the UK’s parliamentary television service or that of the USA Capitol Hill – WYHIWTS (What You Hear Is What They Said)…

            Your underlying suggestion, that people should not have such access to such raw content, is how despots work, stop the plebs from accessing the raw facts and you can sell them any lie under the sun, it is very much how North Korea operates.

          • Edward2
            Posted June 19, 2015 at 7:12 am | Permalink

            It was a simple question Jerry
            So you believe the made and paid for by the EU TV service is unbiased.
            Thats fine, you are entitled to your opinion.
            I’m just a bit more skecptical on how this channel will develop over the forthcoming years.
            There is no underlying suggestion that you should not be able to watch it Jerry
            You carry on and watch whatever you like.

            Ps No need to get so agressive and defensive.

          • Jerry
            Posted June 19, 2015 at 10:12 am | Permalink

            @Edward2; If you are going to argue at least do so with some actual facts, not just europhobic misconceptions. Oh and it is you who gets aggressive, pure hatred against anything with a hint of “EU” in, before or after its name or subject mater, whilst your follow-up replies are defensive due to your utter ignorance of what you pick arguments about!

            You anger is probably doing far more harm to the cause of Euroscepticism than good, unfortunately there are quite a few contributors on our hosts site like that so you probably feel at home and so much doing good to the cause…

    • libertarian
      Posted June 16, 2015 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

      Peter vL

      In one post you have managed to identify everything that is wrong about the EU, socialism and government manipulation of markets.

      In the 25 years the bureaucrats have been having meetings, the free market has developed the World Wide Web and Internet protocol (HTTP) and WWW language (HTML) created whole i revolution from mp3 players, smartphones, tablets, apps, streaming music, tv and films. . Gas powered fuel cell, viagra,HIV protease inhibitor,Nano-tex – nanotechnology wearable fabrics,Foveon Camera Chip, retinal implants etc etc Some of the worlds biggest corporations didn’t exist when they started this process Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn , Uber, Airbnb, Yahoo

      That my friends is why socialism lite, central top down government and market/social engineering will never work. Its why we need desperately to escape the straightjacket of politburo control.

      Oh and don’t listen to people like Acorn he’s a dinosaur trapped in an early 20th century time warp, believing what he reads in out of date text books and pompously telling the rest of us that things we do every day don’t actually work because he read the theory paper from people who died 70 years ago and more.

      • Jerry
        Posted June 19, 2015 at 10:42 am | Permalink

        @libertarian; Indeed and it might have been better had the free market not invented some of those things you cite, especially within the world of IT, thanks for once again showing up some of capitalisms failings!

        I know someone who was at the very heart and start of the micro-electronics revolution in the UK during the 1950s ’60s and 70s onwards – asked about his reaction to the modern use of his industries inventions – in one word, “regret”, that he and others worked all the hours sent to get to were we are today, as we hear another mobile phone start to ring in the restaurant or were ever, or we all have to move out of the way of yet another person with head buried in their mobile phone or tablet walking blindly down the street as they check their socail media account or emails, never mind hearing of yet another teenager caught up in a scam, grooming or worse etc.

        Oh and don’t get me wrong, he is as right-wing (Tory) and capitalist as they come, through and through, no socialism (lite) for him, nor is he ‘a dinosaur trapped in an early 20th century time warp’, just someone who understand that not all things are actually good for mankind even if they do make millions.

      • Jerry
        Posted June 19, 2015 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

        @libertarian; “believing what he reads in out of date text books and pompously telling the rest of us that things we do every day don’t actually work because he read the theory paper from people who died 70 years ago and more.”

        Keynes fell out of fashion due to the supposed socialist overtones (the planned economy etc.) to much of his theories. Until the 1980s when Friedman’s macroeconomic policies were actually used by Thatcher and Reagan, much of the free worlds wealth and success was built upon Keynesian economics. Sorry to say but for the majority, all things considered, the period before “monetarism” was far more stable, with far greater strides in socail mobility and thus consumerism – built on true economic growth, not debt mountains. If some for who “monetarism” has become a religion would only take a broader view of the last 35 years.

  5. Know-Dice
    Posted June 16, 2015 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    Just repeat the mantra – “Europe needs the UK more than the UK needs Europe”.

    In the event of Brexit it’s 100% certain that a trade deal with Europe will be forthcoming.

    And working out a deal on Europeans living in the UK and UK residents living in Europe is certainly not “rock science”….

    • Lifelogic
      Posted June 16, 2015 at 7:25 am | Permalink

      Is rock science now harder than rocket science?

      • Know-Dice
        Posted June 16, 2015 at 8:40 am | Permalink


        Much much harder 🙂

        Better GCSE grades as well…

      • John E
        Posted June 16, 2015 at 9:10 am | Permalink

        Rocket science is actually quite easy – very 60’s

        • Atlas
          Posted June 16, 2015 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

          Re rocket science: True.

          Just “light the political rocket and stand well back to watch the verbal fireworks”.

  6. Margaret Brandreth-J
    Posted June 16, 2015 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    John you know I use this site to learn as well as read articles and comments. I do wish that you would not use abbreviations such as the TTIP . I gather that it is some sort of trade organisation, but that is it.

    Some have already commented on genetically modified crops , a topic which I studied during masters. I would like to see the leeway on this relaxed , but with restraint.

    The 10% tariff on cars just demonstrates a fear of competition , however our car industry might do a little better if we could sell to the EU a little more cheaply.

    • Margaret Brandreth-J
      Posted June 16, 2015 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

      Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. I see that you are making me do work again. The European Commission ‘Trade’ has some interesting points on the benefits of TTIP.Already too much homework for the day.

  7. acorn
    Posted June 16, 2015 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    I can understand the Conservative enthusiasm for TTIP, particularly if it includes the Investor-to-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) system. It is more than likely that will be the back-door mechanism, for a Conservative government to privatise the UK Health and Education services, using the ultra litigious US legal system. You will be aware of the tobacco company Philip Morris, who are challenging the Australian Government’s introduction of plain packaging for cigarettes.

    The arbitration panel’s that form part of ISDS, make decisions that are usually binding and cannot be challenged in national courts and can result in millions of pounds’ worth of compensation for businesses who claim successfully. (NHS fed)

    “The EU Commission was forced to take ISDS off the negotiating table in January 2014. It held a public consultation on ISDS, from March to July. It attracted about 150,000 replies, the most the Commission has ever received for a consultation. The majority (88%) did not want the clause in TTIP. 70,000 of the responses were identical, a result of members of the public using online templates provided for them by NGOs, but EurActiv was told they would still be taken seriously by the executive.”

    • libertarian
      Posted June 16, 2015 at 9:47 pm | Permalink


      Its an EU enthusiasm for TTIP and ISDS do at least try and keep up.

  8. oldtimer
    Posted June 16, 2015 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    Faster progress might well be made if the tariff element was decoupled from the regulatory element. The latter is, I imagine, quite complex in some industries; pharmaceutical, car safety and fuel economy rules are three examples that come to mind. Such non-tariff barriers are significant because harmonisation will not be easy politically.

    There are also odd quirks in the tariff regime too – the USA`s 25% “chicken tax” levied on imported pick up trucks is one example whose removal would be hotly contested by the US manufacurers. No doubt there are others in industries which have successfully lobbied Congress or their parliaments for special treatment.

  9. JimS
    Posted June 16, 2015 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    “Thank heavens for the WTO.”

    That will be one of the ‘top tables’ that we have surrendered our seat on?

    Non-EU Canada and Australia have had trade deals with the USA for over 20 and 10 years respectively. Rather like the ‘cheap’ airfares that Jack Straw claimed a couple of euro-elections ago were a benefit of the EU; ‘cheap’ as in comparison with the ‘cheap’ airfares that we had had for years across the Atlantic.

  10. Shieldsman
    Posted June 16, 2015 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    Take a look at the groups forming ‘NO to TTIP’ who have been lobbying hard against TTIP. Many are from the extreme left and includes all the major Unions.

    The Labour Party and the Unions say they want to stay in the EU. They lack the common sense to realise that outside of the EU it would be up to the UK Government to negotiate trade agreements. With the EU 28 Countries are involved and all have a say and votes.

    The Labour Party pledges carved in stone included ‘Controls on Immigration’ . This followed speeches by both Miliband and Cooper admitting that Labour had got it wrong and would change their ways. Cooper intimated that she would speak nicely to Jean-Claude Juncker and the other EU leaders.
    Without removal of Directive 2004/38/EC – freedom of movement in the EU, control of migration from member states is impossible.
    The only permanent and infallible solution to this many other problems is to leave the EU.

  11. Mike Stallard
    Posted June 16, 2015 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    The thing you are missing is the time scale.
    Because each of the 28 states has to put in their three-penn’orth, and because the negotiators get paid anyway, years pass without any real conclusion when the EU is involved.
    If we really want independence, then we will have to confront the time scale. I reckon that Flexcit is the best option here – Article 50/48 – EFTA/EEA then start negotiating hard!

  12. Ian wragg
    Posted June 16, 2015 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    I feel TTIP has evolved from a free trade agreement to a harmonising of standards to the benefit of Germany and the USA and the detriment of the UK
    Another attempt to create world government.
    America does nothing unless it sees an advantage

    I see the negotiation in Greece is going well with the socialist regime in Brussels headed by our East German Frau.
    Let’s hope they default because we haven’t lent them any money have we John

  13. Bert Young
    Posted June 16, 2015 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    Large multi-nationals are capable of manipulating agreements and do need a form of scrutiny that protects the consumer , so , in this respect , there is merit in PvL’s view . Nevertheless the system that operates in Brussels lacks the skills to provide an approach that could be acceptable . A new body would have to be put together with the will and consent of all sides for the agreement to work – something like the financial regulatory system .

    On another note I am very pleased that DC has heeded the warning of his backbenchers and will avoid a May 5th date for the referendum . At the same time I am horrified that he has insisted that the Government will NOT remain neutral in its position . He has no right to tell his Ministers how to vote or what they can and cannot say in the run up to the referendum . I truly hope that he will face a vote of no confidence before this happens . His backbenchers can now rule the day and force him to face the reality that the public genuinely feel .

  14. Jerry
    Posted June 16, 2015 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    “It’s a pity the EU cannot also do the same, and cannot find a way to further and hurry free trade that does not upset so many of us. The EU’s negotiation of the TTIP just looks like another clumsy EU power grab, allied to anti American rhetoric on sensitive topics which does not help anyone.”

    So there is no truth in the often repeated comments about the USA dragging its heels on TTIP, wanting secrecy in negotiations etc. – thus there seems as much anti EU rhetoric as anti USA rhetoric being used by both sides when it comes to TTIP.

    • John E
      Posted June 16, 2015 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

      Exactly. The US corporations are the prime movers in this. Just compare with the trans Pacific deal to see the same template and the problems that will arise if it is implemented.
      Not all bad things are invented by the EU.

  15. Martin
    Posted June 16, 2015 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    WTO – isn’t that the organization that permits Commonwealth countries to steal British jobs by off shoring?

  16. Kenneth
    Posted June 16, 2015 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    We should not trust the discredited eu quango to negotiate trade terms on our behalf.

    Talking of trust, look at the ongoing purdah discussion:

    1. Whatever assurances the government gives about its own output during the referendum, it cannot control what comes out of Brussels

    2. The government’s stated reason for scrapping purdah during the eu referendum is that there is too much day-to-day business between us and the eu.

    Since such restrictions are OK during a domestic UK elections this clearly supports the claim that Brussels makes 70% of UK laws. It seems that the mere 30% we make allows for purdah but the 70% does not.

    This surely means that the government itself has already made the case for us to get out of the eu.

  17. forthurst
    Posted June 16, 2015 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    “The EU concedes that it has been overtaken by the WTO.”

    When we joined, the EU had erected a 20% tarriff wall which acted as a spiggot to cut off some of our traditional Commonwealth trading partners whilst opening our own badly managed engineering industry to a flood of Continental competition. The decision to join the EU was a disaster for our country, because almost everything to do with trade was bad for us and good for them. We lost our fishing industry, our farmers were told what they could or could not produce, much of our indigenous engineering industry was lost and we have struggled with a trade deficit ever since. Had we simply looked to the WTO or its forerunner the GATT by which barriers to trade were gradually removed, allowing producers to adjust to changing market conditions, we might have fared far better.

    Why then is TTIP necessary if the WTO has been so successful in promoting international trade and its commitant prosperity? As with the original EU deal that we signed up for, we should smell a rat. From our experience with the EU, we should be doubly circumspect, on the one hand not signing up for something that purports to be about trade but is about a lot more than that, and on the other, that it is not grossly disadvantageous to us.

    TTIP is the mechanism by which US Corporations decide what is of merchantable quality, since they themselves write the legislation that is then voted through by a bought and paid for Congress; it is they that supply the regulators who will say the produce is safe, therefore it is simply not reasonable to agree, in principle, that any given US product is of merchantable quality. However, any attempt to protect people or environments from the depradations of US corporations will expose governments to the further depradations of the ISDS courts which operate solely on behalf of the corporations.

    Why is the EU even considering TTIP? It is the duty of our government to promote fair trade, not to promote the interests of large US corporations that pay huge Congressional electioneering expenses to promote their own interests against competitors and the public. Let the WTA take the strain and let our government protect us from unsafe products, environmental destruction in furtherance of foreign profit and financially ruinous obligations. Let’s have less of a particular individual boasting about how many jobs TTIP will create because he’s so far been wrong about everything; he should be saying that we should be outside the EU to negotiate trade deals on our own behalf, not agreeing to everything that the EU decides to do.

  18. ken moore
    Posted June 16, 2015 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    Free trade too often becomes the freedom for foreign competitors to close down british factories and renumerate profits out of the uk. Despite our trade deficit and weak manufacturing we still get told this is the route to prosperity.
    Of course the faceless eu loving corporates love free trade and the uk taxpayer is only too happy to top up low wages.
    I note while abroad this week the British excel at obesity, bald sunburnt heads and ugly tattoos…doesn’t bode well for the future

  19. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted June 16, 2015 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    Why does not the EU simply implement the free trade part of TTIP and carry on talking about the investment part, which is more contentious? We want an end to the US’s buy American policy when it comes to aircraft, so that item should be added to the trade negotiations. And is it still very difficult to obtain employment in the US if you are not a citizen?

    It is also a good opportunity for the EU to reduce drastically the enforced harmonisation and regulation that has been authorised by the Maastricht, Amsterdam, Nice and Lisbon Treaties, and which has resulted in prices being higher than they might be. Remember that it is always the poor as consumers who suffer most from this. Who gives a damn about what the shape of a banana should be or (within reason) what olive oil is served in? And are GM crops still dubious?

    I suppose we should be grateful for how far we have come. The original EEC had some 70% external tariffs and the French used to force importers of Japanese video recorders to register their product at an office in the Pyrenees.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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