If we ran our lives the way politicians talk about trade, we would insist on giving a shopkeeper as much money as possible, then reluctantly accepting some of his goods.

Matt Ridley.

31 thoughts on “Quite”

  1. Sounds a lot like tax too, the way we’re supposed to want to pay as much as possible for as little a service as we can get – with lots of totally unwanted extras thrown in.

  2. As far as I klnow everybody agrees about tariffs (bollocks, and can be set at zero).

    Where the difficulty arises is non tariff barriers, and the sheer bewildering multiplicity and complexity of conformance, mutual recognition, and procedural requirements which need to be, at the very least discussed and agreed in order that the mechanics of trade can continue unhindered.

    One important benefit of Brexit might be that it will hopefully point up just exactly how pointless and indeed downright damaging the whole panoply of customs and excise actually is.

    In a crowded field it is possibly the most stupid and pointlessly expensive of all government activities.

    An artifact of feudal and pre-feudal times.

    Am I the only person on whom the red mist comes down whenever required to provide info for intrastat, or look through 900 pages to try to identify the correct harmonised code for a widget larger than 23 grammes not made of cat or dog fur for domestic use but only on wednesdays when there is an r in the month.

    It is complete and utter bollocks.

  3. I didn’t know what Intrastat is. Had a quick read.

    Yep, it looks like complete and utter bollocks. My main reaction to it was, “WTF?”

    The EU might have been an easier sell if they’d outlawed stuff like Intrastat rather than encouraging it.

  4. I built an intrastat reporting system for a pharmaceutical company many years ago. They were concerned about the levels of accuracy that they needed – would milligrams be too coarse, etc..? C&E told them that the main use of the system was to ascertain a range of normal values of each category – per tonne in order to identify “suspicious” shipments!! I’m sure it’s more use than that now… Isn’t it?

  5. The problem is that, as a relatively small country, our producers will still pay heed to the regulatory requirements of larger countries (or regulatory zones like the single market.) Only those firms that produce mostly for the domestic market would benefit from a bonfire of regulations on how various goods and services are to be produced. Indeed, even producers that only produce a proportion for overseas consumption are still likely to converge to the more demanding standards. We are very much trapped in this framework (whether it be through the single market or convergence) unless we totally redirect the economy, which would be very expensive for potentially very little or no gain in the long run. The satisfaction therefore, from leaving the single market/convergence, is from non-economic benefits. If we could set up a single market equivalent with those more naturally aligned to our way of thinking; most obviously Canada, Australia, New Zealand (but not the US, who are our friends but look at these things differently, and have the outlook you might expect from a continental economy) but possibly also Singapore, Hong Kong and other smaller countries (Chile? Israel? Switzerland?). Should be enough similar minded countries out there, spread across the world, to make it possible. But it doesn’t exist today. (WTO is insufficient.)

  6. As i’ve read here before standards can actually enable trade since it helps an awful lot to know what you’re paying/being paid for. So the finickerty trade descriptions don’t necessarily go away nor do you want them to necessarily.

    The key to making this a non- barrier is where enforcement is placed. At the contract level its good. At the market entry border it’s restrictive.

    UK standards would continue and cater for what the market participants require rather than be implements of protectionist policy. Yes while EU has a standard that makes sense and is in an area where economies of scale are important then can see that being the go to standard. In which case we shouldn’t care.

  7. The problem is that, as a relatively small country, our producers will still pay heed to the regulatory requirements of larger countries

    We’re the 21st largest country by population, out of 233 according to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_population_(United_Nations).

    We’re the 5th largest country by GDP (2015 and 2016 estimates), out of over 190 according to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(nominal)

    We’re the 78th largest country by area, out of 195 according to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_sovereign_states_and_dependencies_by_area.

    So on none of those lists could we be described as a relatively small country.

  8. The UK is also one of the world’s largest manufacturers by value, shouldn’t forget that. I think it usually comes in around tenth or so.

    GB’s a yuuuge island and the UK makes lots of stuff.

  9. We are 112th in terms of wearing colourful trousers, which means we have to follow everyone else’s rules and regulations to the fucking letter

  10. we are a small group of islands off the coast of Europe

    So is Japan (though not off the coast of Europe, obviously).

    So that’s third and fifth in the list of countries by GDP. I imagine loads of other countries would kill to be insignificant groups of islands off the coast of somewhere or other.

  11. One of two intelligence superpowers, and thanks to “history, language / the anglosphere” generally ranked 1 or 2 in ability to project soft power.

    Hey, just imagine – if we were a “big” group of islands off the coast of Europe….

    Isn’t that where most on the left either throw up or make a grab for the razor blades?

  12. @Martin “we are a small group of islands off the coast of Europe”

    Certainly one of the most disingenuous comments I have read on this site.

  13. Many years ago had a very surreal conversation with the tax people about the correct intrastat code for fruit pies, glad to see such a temporary measure still going strong.
    Also I have run across different codes for the same item depending on the purpose a device was used for which can be a pain for reporting

  14. A common Remoaner argument is that a clean Brexit would destroy the UK car industry because it’s all sub-sub-assemblies coming in from umpteen EU countries being turned into sub-assemblies and sent on to another EU country. Inserting non-tariff barriers into this process would cause huge problems. (I’m sure this is exaggerated for political effect, but I’m also pretty sure there’s some element of truth there.)

    My question is – why isn’t this an insuperable problem for Asian manufacturers delivering locally manufactured parts to their EU factory for final assembly? I suspect there may be international standards for this sort of thing, but I’d welcome clarification from those with more knowledge.

  15. @Chris Miller, March 13, 2017 at 6:24 pm

    Good question.

    I heard something about that yesterday (?) related to crankshafts for Ford (?) engines. They enter UK from EU, we do something then export back to EU. They do something and send back. Crankshaft then used in building new engine.


  16. Canada is an empty wasteland apart from a tiny strip near the US border, yet nobody seriously proposes that the Canadian provinces and territories “harmonis(z)e” themselves with the USA.

    New Zealand is a tiny group of islands which are really really far away from the nearest big landmass, Australia, and the Australian constitution actually recognises NZ as an Australian state, should it want to become one.

    But somehow if these tiny islands off the coast of Europe don’t want to send money to the continent it’s the end of the world.

  17. “Only those firms that produce mostly for the domestic market…”

    Given that that is over 90% of businesses, it’s probably worth considering them…

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