Sunday, 24 April 2016

How can you have a 'free trade' deal?

In polite conversation with Mr DBCR on here and with one of my cousins it struck me that the very idea of a 'free trade deal' is nonsense.  Trade is free, end of.

So post BREXIT all Cameron has to do (assuming he's still there shudder) is to stand up in the House of Commons and say, "Right, we're open for business. The UK is now, unilaterally, a free trade nation".

Next he gets on a 'plane ( suggest first stop Eire) and meet the Toaiseach.   " 'Ere, Enda.  Free Trade?  Yeah?  Wanna come and play"?   Next stop India.

Job done.


paulc156 said...

...and then Lola woke up.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Agreed. I made a similar point a couple of weeks ago. We do it unilaterally and hope for the best. No need for agreements, and we'd be better off without shite like TTIP.

DBC Reed said...

Yes lets hope for the best! What could go wrong when we alienate one trading bloc with political backing (Europe) and get a clear warning from the other, which has military backing (United States).
On second thoughts, you're not secret agents for Bremain are you? Flying under the false flag of hapless hippydom? Lets skip around the fields listening to real cool blues played by public-school boys!! Why worry:we've all got private incomes!.Nasty things only happen to foreigners.And poor people who are trapped by THE SYSTEM, man!

Antisthenes said...

Indeed it has worked before GB led the way with the repeal of the corn laws. The one simple act that paved the way to making Britain great. It could do it again. The great peace and prosperity maker is free trade.

Bayard said...

DBCR, so, your alternative is business as usual? Lots of little deals with the EU, the US, made by and for the elite, that ex-public-school ruling class you love so much. I thought you were on the side of the common man.

DBC Reed said...

@A Then international trade rivalry, the creation of empires worked by slaves to feed and supply our great child labour factories, brought the mighty edifice crashing down in world wars ( But not the Free Trade Hall in Manchester where I saw John Lee Hooker and T Bone Walker on the same bill.So some good came of it.)

Lola said...

DBCR. In the nicest possible way, what is the weather like on your planet?

(In re J L H - The Blues Brothers was on telly again the other day. It was that or Alien. No contest really.)

DBC Reed said...

@B Not business as usual. We cannot stay in Europe as presently constituted when the US is interfering in the Middle East and Afghanistan , sending waves of immigrants into Europe which the US leaves Europe to sort out. Ditto the Baltic and satellite states which the US separated from the Soviet bloc, also left Europe to sort out. Obama goes round speaking respectfully of Europe but has harmed it badly with the US jihad against anywhere with the merest suggestion of a health service or public infrastructure.
But on planet Lola this is all just tickety boo. He would rather desert Europe that was set up to stop American interference and exonerate America from its responsibility for the present mess.
(The solo acts at the Free Trade Hall were backed by Memphis Slim on piano and, I think, Willy Dixon on bass.)

paulc156 said...

Why are people (Antis/Lola) banging on and on about free trade, as if we can do it and thereby send our economy to shangri la, forthwith. We already have free trade with the US and EU. The deal currently being pushed by the US has little to do with free trade. It's mostly about patent protection-big extensions of patent protection...the opposite of free trade. That and regulations and the mechanisms whereby sovereign states can be shafted if they try to enforce any local environmental standards or labour laws which might breach the proposed agreement.

Lola said...

We actually don't have 'free trade' with the EU. We are in a customs union. There are lots of bits and pieces that aren't internal 'free trade' in that. Also being in the EU prevents us sorting out 'free trade' with anyone else - on our own. Free trade with the US is going to depend on the TTIP - as far as I understand it, which is the crony corporatist point you make in your penultimate sentence.

I flatly disagree that any Sovereign nation cannot make any rules it likes locally over its own territory. The point I think you're making is that if the UK (say) loads all sorts of green (say) policy costs on its indigenous industry which other nations do not do then we would suffer. Well, yes. But that's the point. The 'other nations' may have perfectly valid arguments for not doing it as we would. It is from such competing arguments that we get progress.

Of course all the foregoing is working on the assumption that 'free trade' is a Good Thing. I happen to think it is, and the evidence of history is on my side. I fully expect argument on that statement but most of the challengers confuse past cronyism and protectionism with free trade, which they weren't.

Lola said...

DBCR. Again you are putting words into my mouth. I have no wish to 'desert Europe'. I have every wish to 'desert the EU'. The EU was not set up to protect against US imperialism. It was originally set up as a Coal and Steel Union to stop future European wars. . "Robert Schuman proposed a community to integrate the coal and steel industries of Europe – these being the two elements necessary to make weapons of war" ( ) So nothing 'to do with the US and the present mess' In large part the US helped Europe with the Marshall Plan. ( ) one aim of which was to remove trade barriers.
Now we can argue about US hegemony and economic imperialism (which I do not like as neither did Friedman) and the way the US assumes that it has the right to enact its laws everywhere. But, it is still a just about functioning democracy (although Obama has done a lot of damage to that) and trading with it would be a good thing. Anyway its share of global GDP is in decline and a free global free trade system that it excluded it would see it suffer.

On Planet Lola free trade and peace and prosperity would reign.

DBC Reed said...

@L Lola busts her knickers with nationalistic bombast"I flatly disagree that any Sovereign nation cannot make any rules it likes locally over its own territory" before copying out Wikipedia to show that the original members of the European project ceded such national independence because it led to wars. (Then they ceded independence further by creating common European institutions incorporated in the Treaty of Rome which lays down strict rules against State aid , dumping practices, and internal tariffs (while erecting tariffs against those outside the Common Market/ notably the US.)Lola wants to demolish this elaborate structure creating free trade in Europe and return, almost certainly, to the tensions and conflict of inter-war Europe appearing to believe that unregulated, cut-throat competitive trade is some universal panacea and that the statesmen of Europe Union got it all wrong by replacing it .