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( A seven-minute read)

Of course not.

Britain cannot conclude trade deals or agreements with countries while it is still a member of the European Union.

However, it’s important to note exactly what this means.

Does it mean leapfrogging?

Britain cannot conclude such agreements while still a member, not that Britain cannot negotiate them while still in the bloc.Résultat de recherche d'images pour "Pictures of trade agreements"

This is a distinction that all too many are not making and it’s an important one:

WHATEVER ABOUT THE HIPOCRICY of trading with a country that abuses human rights, and is killing Yemenites with English weapons (UK sales of arms and military kit to Saudi Arabia hit £1.1bn in 2017.) the question for the EU is:

Is England breaching its EU treaty or not.

A Chines £9bn agreement  ( Not all details have been made public.)

A Saudi £65bn agreement trade and investment target for the year 2030.

Both disguised as mutual trade and investment opportunities ambitions, visions, whatever you like to call them over the coming years.

Britain will remain within custom union rules during any Brexit transition. This means that no new trade deals can come into force until at least 2021.

Over the years, the EU has forged a constructive political dialogue with members of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC). These countries are Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the UAE.

The Cooperation Agreement, which was concluded in 1988, forms the basis for the relationship that aims at:

  • strengthening the stability in the strategically important region;
  • facilitating the political and economic relations;
  • broadening economic and technical cooperation;
  • further broadening cooperation on energy, industry, trade and services, agriculture, fisheries, investment, science, technology, and environment.
  • The EU and GCC have been engaged in negotiating a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) since 1990.

In the meantime here are some of the benefits England enjoys from EU trade deals ( There are 800 odd trading)Résultat de recherche d'images pour "Pictures of trade agreements"

As a member of the EU, Uk business has easier access to 1/3 of the world’s markets by value.

The EU gives UK business preferential market access to over 50 countries outside of the EU.

The EU gives the UK access to more markets than Switzerland, Canada or Australia – who have 38, 15 and 15 trade deals respectively.

The EU gets the UK a better deal – eliminating tariffs with South Korea
almost 4 times quicker than Australia’s deal.

EU trade deals are comprehensive in scope – all deals signed in the last year include services.

The EU-South Korea deal boosted UK trade with South Korea by 57%.

The EU-Canada trade deal will add £1.3bn to the economy.

If the EU completes all deals currently under negotiation, 88% of the UK’s trade would be covered.

The EU-US deal (TTIP) could add £10bn to the UK economy by attracting more investment, cutting red tape and increasing consumer choice. The deal would also set the bar for regulatory standards around the world with corporations having legal powers to sue nations. Let’s hope it will never happen.

Britain is now trumping free trade.

” Free trade under WTO rules will play an important role in global poverty reduction post-Brexit.”

But this argument is based on nostalgia for a system where free and fair trade represented a cornerstone of Britain’s foreign policy. It is nostalgic because such a system, which had its origins in colonies and treaty ports, was neither free nor based on fair rules. It’s a fallacy that provides – at best – some comfort against the uncertainty of Brexit. At worst, it evokes memories among many countries, including China, of an era when trade was used to exacerbate exploitation rather than alleviate poverty.

The arguments that rules-based free trade reduces poverty do not stand up to scrutiny. Not only are they divorced from the history of the colonial trade system, they are also inconsistent with the way in which China lifted some 700m citizens out of absolute poverty.

Plus, the assertion that a “protectionist” EU has constrained the UK’s ability to form free trade agreements with its “natural” trade partners in the Commonwealth has been shown to be inconsistent. The EU incorporated many of these countries into its system trade preferences after the UK joined its precursor, the EEC.

The colonial trade system was neither built on free trade nor liberal economic policy. Instead, it functioned on the basis of strict currency controls, centralized planning and unbalanced economic power, which favored the colonial power.

Perhaps the biggest irony is that the UK’s best prospects for a favorable trade agreement with China, a strong currency, and rules-based trade are to be found by remaining within the EU. The EU has long been reluctant to grant China market economy status until it can demonstrate that Chinese product prices reflect their market value. More recently, it has sought to develop a more cohesive approach to Chinese investment in EU countries.

In holding China to rules-based trade, the EU is, therefore, following the very approach that those in favor of Brexit appear to be advocating. And, as one of China’s biggest export markets, has far more clout to shape these rules.

There remains this question should countries make trade deals with countries that use them to sell arms.

England has already sold £4.6bn of arms to Saudi since the war started in Yemen in 2015. It now in the process of selling an additional 48 Typhoon at an expected to cost on average about $180 million each. So much for Free trade under WTO rules.

All human comments appreciated. All like clicks chucked in the bin.