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The draft trade treaty that should be presented to the European Union

Summary:
The government is to prepare and publish the draft of a trade treaty to govern interactions between the UK and the remnant European Union. British negotiators fear Michel Barnier has been unable to get EU leaders to focus on Brexit trade and security talks as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, as Downing Street prepares to publish a draft treaty this week in an effort to reboot the process.Sadly, it will not be the correct one. For, as we’ve said before and will no doubt have to again, the correct treaty is short, simple and goes full blown unilateral free trade on them:1.There will be no tariff or non-tariff barriers on imports into the UK. 2.Imports will be regulated in exactly the same manner as domestic production.3.You can do what you like.4.Err, that’s it.Nothing else is required.

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The government is to prepare and publish the draft of a trade treaty to govern interactions between the UK and the remnant European Union.

British negotiators fear Michel Barnier has been unable to get EU leaders to focus on Brexit trade and security talks as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, as Downing Street prepares to publish a draft treaty this week in an effort to reboot the process.

Sadly, it will not be the correct one. For, as we’ve said before and will no doubt have to again, the correct treaty is short, simple and goes full blown unilateral free trade on them:

1.There will be no tariff or non-tariff barriers on imports into the UK.

2.Imports will be regulated in exactly the same manner as domestic production.

3.You can do what you like.

4.Err, that’s it.

Nothing else is required. Well, except for all to understand the most basic point about trade. The purpose of which, the very reason we interact with those foreigners beyond our silver girt islands, is in order to gain access to those things they do better than we do. There are, after all, some such things. As Adam Smith noted, it is possible to grow grapes and make wine in Scotland but for the effort required it’s better to buy it in from Bourdeaux. What would middle class life be without prosecco? That swapping of port for cloth is the very basis of comparative advantage. And while Savile Row tailoring is all very well Hugo Boss was known for some pretty spiffy outfits in his time.

The rules on what we may export to others are of mild interest. What we may buy from others and how much we charge ourselves for doing so are vital. Imports, that is, are the point of trade, exports just being the work we do to get them.

Thus the only correct attitude toward trade is free trade. Unilateral free trade that is, as we did in 1846 with the Corn Laws. Which is what our draft treaty should be.

Of course, the world is more complex now, there are such things as patents and intellectual property rights to consider too. But that’s OK, we’ll not bother with asserting our copyright on the above treaty.

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Tim Worstall
Tim Worstall is a British-born writer and Senior Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute. Worstall is a regular contributor to Forbes and the Register. He has also written for the Guardian, the New York Times, PandoDaily, the Daily Telegraph blogs, the Times, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2010 his blog was listed as one of the top 100 UK political blogs by Total Politics.

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