EU project torn to shreds as NAFTA branded more successful than customs union

Nigel Farage says Johnson 'owes him so much' for Brexit

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The UK is nearing an agreement in principle on a free trade deal with New Zealand after the sixth round of talks between the two countries. International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said that “great progress” had been made in the most recent talks, which ran from July 19-30. A statement from Ms Truss emphasised the shared values, long history and commitment to free trade between the UK and New Zealand.

She said: “I want a modern agreement that pushes new frontiers in areas like green and digital trade.”

As well as improving trade, it is also hoped that the deal will speed up the UK’s admission to the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which it applied to join in January.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson hopes these trade deals will help cement his vision of a post-Brexit “Global Britain”.

This international activity, Mr Johnson and his team believe, will act as a political ballast for Britain, helping to strengthen its union by showcasing its continued relevance in the world after leaving the bloc.

Striking these kinds of deals, after all, was the whole point of Brexit, according to many eurosceptics.

In a recent report, Brent H. Cameron, an author and commentator on Commonwealth trade issues, argued that while critics of Brexit are correct that it is not a magic bullet for Britain’s problems, it will give the country both the tools to address the economic dislocations it brings, and the freedom to pursue relationships where the benefits accrue both ways.

Mr Cameron put the EU to shame as he made the example of the Canada-US FTA and its NAFTA successor, and how despite not having a customs union, the relationship is one of the most successful in the world.

He wrote: “The Canada/US FTA and its NAFTA successor – did not harmonise currencies, courts, or laws.

“There is no NAFTA flag, Parliament or anthem.

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“There is no customs union, or equivalent of ‘Norway+’ or any kind of plus this-and-that.

“Any sort of union – customs or otherwise – would be unacceptable to either side.

“Despite this, the bilateral relationship is the most successful of any in the global economy.”

Unlike the NAFTA experience, Mr Cameron added, Britain harmonised its economic laws and significant aspects of its governance with other EU members.

One could have assumed, therefore, that the relationship would have been even more mutually beneficial than the North American case.

However, this is not the case.

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He added: “In the same year (2017), British two-way trade with the rest of the EU was $800.8billion (£575.5bn), with a trade deficit of $87.25billion (£62.6bn) – a loss of nearly $0.11 (£0.07) on the dollar.

“When one subtracts the $15.91billion (£12.2billion) surplus Britain enjoys with Ireland – arguably the most similar and compatible of EU member states absent legislative harmonisation – on $77.72billion (£55.8billion) of bilateral trade, the deficit moves to $103.16billion (£74.25bn) on a total volume of $728billion (£523.1bn) – a loss of $0.14 (£0.10) on the dollar, or a 21 percent worsening over the status quo.”

According to the trade expert, those losses have real consequences for the future of globalisation as they do not accrue to those in professions and industries like finance and legal services but they fall squarely upon those who earn their livings in sectors and activities where the deficits equate to substitution for foreign competition – like manufacturing.

He concluded in his report for Red Cell: “Free trade, as a theoretical construct, considers this and argues that, at some juncture ceteris paribus, there is a levelling out and some form of equilibrium is reached.

“Canada, having agreed to only a free trade treaty with the world’s largest, most powerful economy, has achieved close to that balance.

“Britain – even after having outsourced so much of its legal, political and bureaucratic functions to Brussels for four decades – is nowhere close to that elusive goal.”

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