Trade is good. It’s not a zero-sum game. By matching one party’s needs with a second party’s surplus, free trade in an open market enriches both parties.

Individuals trade; companies trade. But — with the exception of government procurement — governments don’t trade. Despite their rhetoric about striking trade deals, most of the time, most government intervention in the market is designed to impede free trade. By erecting tariffs and non-tariff barriers, they aim to protect indigenous industry, to promote consumer protection or to advance some dubious policy objective. Most “trade deals” aim simply to reduce constraints on trade previously imposed.

The single market of the European Union is a protectionist structure, erecting barriers to the ability of Europeans to trade with non-members of the Union.

Some who argue in favour of leaving the EU place the highest priority on Britain retaining participation in the single market — at least in the short-medium term. From this flow consequences such as continuing to accept, at least temporarily, the four freedoms of movement, of goods, services, people and capital.

We don’t agree. Trade is important, especially for a nation such as Britain. But inter-governmental trade arrangements cannot be given absolute priority. Our instinct is that in the end the natural individual propensity to trade will overcome governments’ desire to constrain it. Considerations of sovereignty thus have to take precedence over those of short-term trading constraints.

1 thought on “Trade

  1. Having recently spoken to several largely Europhile audiences, I think the independence movement is missing a trick on the single market, as an interim step in what is bound to be a lengthy process of disengagement from a process of forty years of integration.

    To start on that at all, there is the tactical necessity of winning the referendum. This means appealing to people who may not like the EU but are understandably fearful for their jobs or businesses. To give two recent examples, I am reliably informed that Rolls Royce management and trade unions are indoctrinating their work force that BREXIT will endanger their jobs and probably necessitate the transfer of production to mainland Europe. Secondly, a friend of ten years or more accused me jocularly of ” getting him into trouble” . He is a consulting engineer who has clients in all parts of the country. At one such client, he was accosted by a very angry red-faced man, who told him to remove his car from the company car park at once. It carries a ” Vote to leave the EU” sticker which I had given him. There were high words until a more senior person apologised and smoothed things over. The little Hitler of the Car Park expected to be obeyed.

    The FLEXCIT market solution completely answers the legitimate fears of people like this. It is outflanking rather than frontal assault. On the question of free movement EEA states can unilaterally impose restrictions when immigration is causing undue social problems. Little Liechtenstein has imposed a quota for years. So whilst it is not as absolute as we like, it is a vast improvement on where we are now.
    One thing Mr Cameron has demonstrated is that renegotiation from the inside is impossible. Once outside, all things are possible. If we do not secure the vote for out by appealing to enough of the sort of people I have mentioned, then it’s game over – resulting from the ” John Bull in a china shop”, gung-ho posturing of people who can offer nothing but” they sell more to us than we do to them, so Johnny Foreigner will do as we demand”


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