How to screw up trade deals like an expert

20th February 2019 / United Kingdom
How to screw up trade deals like an expert

By Robert Woodward – TruePublica: Britain is now in desperate need of some sort of leadership. Any leadership will do, just not the one we currently have – or have had in the last decade that has led us into crisis after crisis. The latest news of government officials messing up international relations just turns the whole Brexit illusion into a nightmare, soon to be upon us all.


A survey published in The Independent last November said that 42 per cent the country’s most prominent academics think a no-deal Brexit is the most likely scenario. As each day passes that awful percentage increases as Theresa May is quite obviously going to take her vision of Brexit, a vision that parliament has emphatically rejected, to the last day in a cynical attempt to blackmail representative democracy. It’s her way or boom! In fact, that same survey also said just 16 per cent of experts thought Theresa May would get her deal though. Not exactly a glowing endorsement of her persuasiveness skill sets.

In the meantime, the uncertainty and instability that the Conservative party has brought to the nation adds Honda, who have decided Britain is not the place for them who joins Nissan, Ford, JLR, Panasonic, Sony, Dyson, Phillips, Hitachi, Schaeffler, Michelin and Toshiba – to name those we know of.

Some economic commentators have already said that it was the Brexit consequences, rather than Brexit itself, that have driven Honda’s looming exit from Swindon.

Just six of those companies above are to shed 10,800 jobs at a loss of £270 million in wages alone – forget everything else that generates money in the economy from paid salaries and running a large business.

Not to worry though. We must keep calm and carry on eh!

The FT has a few words about those actually in government desperately attempting to sign trade deals because all their words about how easy this was going to be have turned out to be just that – just words. It’s not as though those walking the corridors of power are themselves experts in anything, except, of course, bringing the nation to its knees. Here is some evidence of their particular skill sets.


“The UK’s latest attempt to persuade Japan to agree a quick post-Brexit trade deal has backfired after officials in Tokyo reacted with dismay at British tactics. Theresa May’s government is already battling to mend relations with China, after Beijing cancelled a key trade meeting with chancellor Philip Hammond in protest at a UK pledge to send an aircraft carrier to the Pacific. 

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No, this is not a line from the political satire sitcom Yes, Minister. It’s a line from the Financial Times. But there’s more:


Relations with Japan have soured as a result of a letter from the UK foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt and international trade secretary Liam Fox which told their Japanese counterparts that “time is of the essence” and said flexibility would be required on both sides. Although UK officials insisted that the letter, sent on February 8, had been couched in standard diplomatic language, Japanese officials believe that it reflected an increasingly high-handed approach from the British side. In response, officials in Tokyo briefly considered cancelling a round of trade talks this week. In one section, the letter said that “we are committed to [speed and flexibility] and hope that Japan is too” — a line which, according to people close to Japanese trade officials, was read in Tokyo as an accusation of foot-dragging. People familiar with the situation said that Japan was finalising an appropriate response a week after Mr Hunt and Mr Fox’s letter had landed.”


It should be noted at this point that despite 18 months of talks, Japan and the UK have failed to make significant breakthroughs on a new trade deal.

In addition, Liam Fox’s promises of running out of ink with so many trade deals to sign has managed to rollover precisely zero of the EU’s 40 or so trade deals. Zero, None. Not one.

As reported last week, the UK has signed up just seven countries, covering £16bn of annual trade in goods. This is a scratch on the surface of Britain’s annual exported trade currently worth 443 billion U.S. dollars as at 2017. Two of those countries are Liechtenstein and the Faroe Islands. Birmingham exports more than the total trade Britain does with those two countries combined.

In the meantime, Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Chair of the ERG group of Jihadist Brexiteers who are rattling the sabre for the hardest of hard no-deal Brexit’s wants the UK to crash out of the EU because if not his own company would be brought to heel by appropriate EU wide legislation, which would lead to more taxes due in erm … 2019.

It begs the question, who else in this rather obscure but influential European Research Group (ERG) that he chairs and the even more obscure Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA) that he subscribes to, along with other so-called think tanks and front charities with strong connections to the right-wing American Tea-Party have similar vested interests in a no-deal Brexit. I imagine all of them because they are not gambling the future of an entire nation for the good of it – as we are already finding out.




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