johnhemming wrote:The nub of the issue, however, is that when you have a trade agreement it means that you do things that you would not otherwise do. Hence you are being required to do things as a consequence of the agreement. The point about the EU is that we (soon used to) participate in setting the rules. In the future we will have to follow some of those rules, but not participate in setting them to the same extent that we do at the moment.
Quite so, and that is exactly the point of the response I gave earlier: “I'm a Leaver, so to your question: “Is the Customs Union so bad that we can't live with it?” I respond with: “It depends upon the strings that come attached to CU membership.”
Within the Customs Union, what else would Britain be required to do that it would not otherwise do? Give away its fishing waters? Open its borders to immigrants on demand? Adopt the Euro? Leave or stay in Euratom?
Why so much obligatory linkage between disparate issues?
Why do trade agreements come with strings attached at all? If a British greengrocer and a Spanish wholesaler agree a deal in the sale and purchase of tomatoes in what way why or should that deal be linked with giving Spanish fishing boats access to British fishing waters? Why should the readiness of a Cardiff butcher to buy spiced sausages from a Polish butcher be linked in any way to Polish immigrants' being entitled to unfettered rights of access to Britain?
Those are four separate issues, each with its own merits and demerits, and each should be negotiated separately with the parties concerned, be they individual trading parties dealing with trading issues, or governmental parties dealing with wider issues. As soon as artificial linkages between unrelated issues are established horse-trading occurs - the doing of things you would not otherwise do.
johnhemming wrote:The nub of the issue, however, is that when you have a trade agreement it means that you do things that you would not otherwise do.
What sort of things? Why be obliged to do them? Things to your advantage? Or things like horsetrading? Like responding to arm-twisting? Doing wrong things for wrong reasons an so on.
johnhemming wrote:Hence you are being required to do things as a consequence of the agreement.
Of course – you give me tomatoes and I give you money, what we do is a direct and expected consequence of the agreement we have. What else should I be required to do? And if so, why?
johnhemming wrote:The point about the EU is that we (soon used to) participate in setting the rules. In the future we will have to follow some of those rules, but not participate in setting them to the same extent that we do at the moment.
I am not averse to the establishment or the following of rules, if and where necessary, if relevant to a known and agreed purpose, and if set and agreed by the parties concerned. On a recent thread I was lampooned for recalling that Phoenician and Cornish entrepreneurs used to trade tin without the intercession of governments to set the rules – the traders themselves set and administered the rules. I am surprised that in an age of neo-liberalism entrepreneurs themselves are no longer deemed able to set, agree, and follow the rules they themselves need for the trading of tomatoes, spiced sausages, aeroplane wings, or motor-car engines. What advantages are gained by the participation in rule-making of non-involved others, beyond the entrepreneurs themselves?
I am curious to learn, following Airbus Chief Executive Tom Enders' speech at Davos recently, what it is about Welsh-made /Broughton-made aeroplane wings – satisfactorily used by Airbus for decades - that will suddenly make them unsatisfactory after the end of March. Is it a design fault? Something inadequate in the materials used? Something intrinsic in the wings themselves? Or something artificial, quite unrelated to the quality or production of the wings themselves? Is Enders' threat to phase-out the use of Broughton-made wings a consequence of normal entrepreneurial deal-making, or a consequence of the intercession of trade-hindering rules obliging him to do things he would not otherwise do?
To return to my point on what is wrong with a Customs Union. It depends upon what extraneous strings are attached to the Customs Union. Why should deals between entrepreneurs not stand or fall on their own merits? Why should strings - why should “things you do as a consequence of the agreement” as johnhemming puts it – be attached to, or impinge upon, traders' deals? I am reminded of the things British Aerospace was required to do (by the Saudi counterparties) as a consequence of the trade agreement it made with prominent Saudi Arabian government figures. Beware deals and agreements that come with extraneous strings attached.
Cooperating with other countries around the globe, not merely with the 27, on all sorts of issues - environment, medical and scientific enquiry, crime and criminal repatriation, student exchange, the list is very long ... --- makes sense, but why does the EU think that so many of these issues have to be tied (with trade) into one obligatory bundle?
I apologise for a post full of questions, but there is much about the EU's interposing of itself between entrepreneurs - between willing buyers and willing sellers - which seems to have added complexity to the essentially simple activity of people trading goods and services with one another. Does it aim in general to hinder trade or facilitate it?
If the EU ceased to exist would it have to be re-invented?
If so, in its present form?