A NZ-UK trade agreement will be another – albeit small – step in the re-ordering of global trade

There is increasing chatter in London that the NZ-UK trade deal will be announced in days, with invitations to briefings being diaried for Tuesday.

But it’s worth noting that the UK commentators seem to be excising the prefix ‘free’ from the ‘trade agreement’, perhaps reflecting better understanding that these days there is no free trade without a substantial regulatory component.

While NZ’s producers will no doubt be grateful if they get an Australian-style phased reduction of tariffs and quotas as has been briefed, the non-tariff/quota regulatory barriers will be just as important in the long run.

That at least would seem to be the view of the eminent organ, the Irish Farmers Journal, in its assessment of the currently-fraught implementation of free trade arrangements between the EU, Ireland, Northern Ireland and Great Britain (ie, the UK minus Northern Ireland).

Continue reading “A NZ-UK trade agreement will be another – albeit small – step in the re-ordering of global trade”

US politicians – with a fondness for Ireland – warn UK about Brexit negotiations

As if the UK doesn’t have enough trouble negotiating Brexit with the European Union, it has now entered the US presidential election campaign.

Democrat candidate Joe Biden says there will be “no US-UK free trade agreement” if London tampers with the exit arrangements over Northern Ireland.  House speaker Democrat Nancy Pelosi and four congressmen also claim Brexit is posing dangers to the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement.

Northern Ireland is an article of faith for the Democrats. Former president Bill Clinton still claims the lion’s share for bringing the conflict to an end.  Ever since President John F Kennedy in the 1950s, there has been a strong bond with Ireland.

It became an act of authenticity with Democrats to claim some form of identity with Ireland. Ireland loved the Kennedys. At Galway Cathedral, there is a mosaic representation of Kennedy and Patrick Pearse, the leader of the 1916 rebellion, praying to an image of the risen Christ. Continue reading “US politicians – with a fondness for Ireland – warn UK about Brexit negotiations”

Boris’s offer tests the EU – and Ireland

In a disciplined performance, Boris Johnson used his speech to the Conservative party conference on Wednesday to launch his Brexit offer to the EU.  There was as much unconventional use of the English language as ever, but this time he stayed on message.  And he seemed to enjoy himself too, after last week’s turmoil.

Unlike some other Brexit negotiating steps, the offer is a public one.  The letter was despatched to the EU and released on the same day (full text here).   Because it’s also an offer to the British electorate. Continue reading “Boris’s offer tests the EU – and Ireland”

British budget (it should be noted) assumes success for Brexit negotiations

London correspondent:  Britain’s budget, announced on Monday by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, mainly comprised the small fixes voters have got used to:  here tweaking tax thresholds, there nudging up stealth taxes, a little more cash for schools now and a (perhaps not-so-small) digital tax in the future.  But what was more interesting was the acknowledgement that the budget assumed a satisfactory outcome for the current Brexit negotiations and that a totally different budget would be required in the event of failure.

In fact, Britain’s economy has performed much better since Britain voted to leave the European Union than predicted by those who opposed exit.  Neither consumers nor businesses responded to the uncertainty by hunkering down and slashing expenditure.  But if Britain leaves in March next year without a transition deal covering areas like trade, commerce, transport and communications, there is likely to be at least temporary, perhaps significant, disruption to transaction flows. Continue reading “British budget (it should be noted) assumes success for Brexit negotiations”