Tag Archives: free trade

18 January 2019 – today’s press releases

As another week draws to a close, the opportunism of the Conservatives becomes more apparent, using the chaos of Brexit to disguise their true intent. And it isn’t to make life better for ordinary people, or to fulfil the promises of the Leave campaign…

  • Lib Dems: Boris still peddling mistruths on Brexit
  • Lib Dems fight Tory threats to human rights
  • Lib Dems: Final fig leaf of leave campaign falls off with Fox

Lib Dems: Boris still peddling mistruths on Brexit

Responding to the speech Boris Johnson made today, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

No one will take lessons from Boris Johnson on eroding trust

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Why “Built in Britain” is not always Best for Britain

If you’re a remainer, if you’re for an open Britain, if you’re a liberal, there’s little to cheer in Jeremy Corbyn’s latest policy announcement; helping firms make the most of the “opportunities” of Brexit by ending a “reliance on overseas workers” and returning government contracts to the UK from overseas, seemingly without any concern as to the costs.

If there are any opportunities in the UK leaving the European Union, which appears increasingly doubtful, they are certainly not to be found in either the scapegoating of migrants or economic protectionism. The language of Jeremy Corbyn in his speech was …

Posted in Op-eds | 86 Comments

Cakeonomics and Free Trade

 

Crumbs!

Not heard of Cakeonomics?

Cakeonomics is a simplified, quick and sometimes fun approach to economics and its connections with everyday life. It uses the metaphor of cake in an effort to make Economics more accessible and attractive, so that more of us can ask better questions about it and be sharper at assessing any answers. We need stronger, more confident knowledge to better analyse and help address the problems of our times, which are also likely to be the problems of our children and theirs.

Your piece of cake depends on various factors. Two crucial factors are the size of your slice and the size of the cake from which your slice comes.

Here’s some data and information about the global economic cake:

The richest 1 per cent increased its income by 60 per cent in the last 20 years (1992-2012) with the financial crisis accelerating rather than slowing the process.

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Liberal Democrats for Free Trade

Vince Cable at Social Liberal Forum conference 19th July 2014 - photo by Paul Walter

In my view, trade benefits all countries. It spreads technology and good practice; it stimulates competition and rejuvenates economies.

Vince Cable, less than six months after being appointed Business Secretary, said that back in 2010 as he welcomed the EU-South Korea trade agreement.

Liberal Democrats should loud and proud make the case for Free Trade.

It ought to be inconceivable that we have to have this argument again.

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LibLink: Vince Cable makes the case for TTIP and free trade

Vince Cable, who was involved in negotiations over the proposed EU-US trade deal, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, in his role as business secretary, has been writing about the issue, and that of free trade more generally.

Vince first summarises the rationale for TTIP:

The European Commission has prioritised a bilateral agreement with the USA: TTIP, which is proving a source of unexpected controversy, although negotiations are still at an early stage. The underlying objective is to apply, on a transatlantic basis, the same approach that helped to create the EU Single Market. Since, as within the EU, tariffs and quotas are no longer a major issue the emphasis has been on preventing differences in standards, mainly technical, acting as a barrier to trade. There are, for example, different specifications for seatbelt design and testing that make it difficult to export in both directions. In effect, a different production line is required to sell into the USA, which can be prohibitive, especially for low volume manufacturers.

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The EU already gives us more than anti-Europeans are promising

Inside the EU we have better access to the European marketplace than we could ever have outside. And the clout of such a massive bloc means we strike better trade deals now than we ever could on our own.

For years anti-Europeans have churned out stories about Brussels banning schoolchildren from eating yoghurt and the Queen from appearing on our passports. More recently they latched onto immigration, with Brexiteers offering up conflicting numbers of how many millions of foreigners are on their way.

With the referendum approaching however the time has come for them to stop complaining and start explaining. What assurances can they give, for instance, to people in Swindon who earn a living building cars for Honda? How secure are their jobs going to be if trade barriers go back up?

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TTIP and the NHS: Separating fact from fiction

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a proposed agreement currently being negotiated between the European Union and United States. If agreed it will make it easier for companies and individuals across all EU member states and America to trade with one another, as well as encouraging greater bilateral investment.

I wrote generally about TTIP on LDV back in July, given that it is party policy to support the agreement. However, even at that point a concerted campaign had begun linking TTIP to the supposed privatisation of the National Health Service, with union leaders, campaigning websites and politicians calling either for TTIP to be abandoned or for special safeguards to be included.

This piece, therefore, addresses that issue in some detail.

Investor State Dispute Settlement

The “investment” part of TTIP seeks to increase the amount of foreign direct investment that flows between EU member states and the US. In other words, the amount of money that is spent establishing or expanding businesses or on other projects on which a monetary return is expected.

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Opinion: TTIP and the inversion of the Free Trade debate

The Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership provides an interesting case study as to how the very meaning of ‘Free Trade’ is changing. The treaty itself is on the rocks with increasing opposition from France and Germany alongside a powerful combination of unions and anti-globalisation advocacy groups. Nothing about that is particularly unusual but a crucial difference is the arguments these groups are making. For the first time they are talking about consumers.

Traditionally trade deals meant hitting producers to help consumers with the abolition of tariffs, subsidies and protectionist legislation. Although there is an element of this in the TTIP the majority of it is actually about the harmonization of consumer standards and it is this which flips the traditional free trade debate so firmly on its head.

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TTIP — the US-EU trade deal. What is it, and where is it up to?

Container Ship tradeAt last year’s autumn conference, the Lib Dems pledged to support a new trade agreement between the European Union and the United States — known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. The motion, ‘Strengthening the UK Economy’ (pdf), called on the coalition to:

Increase trading opportunities by working in the EU to ensure that the success of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, doing everything possible to revive the World Trade Organisation led Doha Development Round and further integrating the EU services market.

Since then there has been significant …

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Clegg pushes for transatlantic trade deal

Container Ship tradeWhen, just over a week ago, conference overwhelmingly backed motion F19, “Strengthening the UK Economy” (pdf), it voted for our party to lead the way on free trade, thanks to the following addition (in which I played a small role), which was “drafted into” the motion:

8. Increase trading opportunities by working in the EU to ensure that the success of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, doing everything possible to revive the World Trade Organisation led Doha Development Round and further integrating the EU services market.

The party’s leadership …

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Opinion: TTIP – whose freedom will it promote?

Few things press Liberal Democrat buttons like the promise of free (or freer) trade. So, London MEP Baroness Sarah Ludford’s recent post for LDV noting that the European Parliament has just given the go-ahead for negotiations towards the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP, a.k.a. TAFTA), a free trade treaty that will be the biggest in history, was generally welcomed in comments.

But what exactly is proposed? Tariffs on both sides of the Atlantic are already low – averaging only about 4% – so the possible gains from further reductions are modest. A quick root around …

Posted in Op-eds | 11 Comments

Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP writes…An EU-US trade deal would be good for Europe and for Britain

Today the European Parliament gave the go-ahead to negotiations for an ambitious comprehensive EU-US ‘transatlantic trade and investment partnership’ agreement – or T-TIP in the jargon. The EU and US combined account for over half the global economy, making this by far the biggest free-trade agreement in history. Existing protectionist restrictions in America as well as in Europe mean that the full potential of our economic relationship is not realised. While the abolition of remaining tariffs on goods will bring worthwhile gains, the greatest benefits will be in removal of non-tariff barriers to achieve a much more integrated transatlantic marketplace.

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Can a global trade deal be rescued?

Container ShipCongratulations to Roberto Azevedo, who, it has just been announced, will take over from Pascal Lamy as the head of the World Trade Organisation later this year. Azevedo, a Brazilian diplomat, beat off Herminio Blanco, a former Mexican finance minister who had the backing of many developed countries.

The most obvious and pressing task facing Azevedo is to rescue the so-called Doha Round of world trade talks, which stalled in 2008 and have made little progress since.

In the absence of global progress, a number of bilateral trade talks have sprung up, most recently …

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Lib Dems should lead the European push for a US trade deal

President Obama’s public statement in favour of a US-EU trade agreement should be welcomed by all liberals. Free trade is a cause with a long and proud liberal history, and such a deal has the potential to increase prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic.

There will be some countries in the EU less keen on such a deal than others: our French neighbours being the most obvious example. Many countries in the EU have a vested interest in not creating a truly free market within the EU, never mind across the pond. Agriculture has long been a major impediment …

Posted in News | 4 Comments

Putting the party’s message in a distinctively liberal context – Part 2: the economy

This is the second of three posts looking at the party’s messaging. The first was published here yesterday; the last and final post will appear tomorrow.

The first half of our message emphasises economic competence: bringing back (as David Laws once put it) Gladstonian Liberalism to the Treasury and setting us up to be competitive in a fast-changing, globalised economy.

So far, much of the focus has been on our willingness to take “tough decisions”. Here, for example, is David Laws speaking to the Independent recently: “in the past people have known we stood for a fairer society but have …

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Opinion: for a market to be free you must have regulation

Whenever I utter the phrase ‘free trade’ within those Liberal Democrat circles in which I am permitted to mix, the reaction is akin to that which I might get if I suggested making it compulsory for all party members to worship statues of me.

And that’s a pity (the reaction to the free trade, not the statues) because most people when they meet an advocate of free trade, mutter darkly about the effects of ‘light touch regulation’. But free trade and light touch regulation are not the same, indeed in many ways they are inimical to each other.

The debate should not …

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The Independent View: Poverty can and must be made history

Ten million people bought Make Poverty History campaign armbands in 2005. Some would hold that voters give development issues a low priority. But those armbands showed that a lot of voters care.

More and better aid, debt relief and trade justice were the demands of campaigners. Five years later, how is the government doing? Brilliantly if you fall for Labour’s spin. Mediocre if you analyse the facts.

An OECD report says that Britain is expected to devote 0.56% of national income to development aid this year. That hides a few things. The government arrives at this figure by including …

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Opinion: Ebay – Europe is the Politics that Counts

Internet firm Ebay are sending out an email, which I reproduce below, to its registered users, calling on people to sign a petition to support liberal trade and prevent luxury brand manufacturers restricting free trade in their product.

ebay petition

It is an obvious example of the importance of European Union law. It also reminds us how EU jurisdiction in trade law is logical. It is far better for consumers and companies in the 27 states to know that a common set of (economically liberal) laws apply across Europe than …

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Also tagged | 29 Comments

Opinion: Gin-swigging Geldof joins chorus of calls for free trade

A BBC chin-wag with Bob Geldof was a predictable part of the G20 coverage, and culminated perhaps equally predictably, with ‘Sir Bob’ confessing that he’d been knocking back gin. He then peevishly crushed a plastic up and chucked it on the ground.

Sounds like my kind of evening.

Nonetheless, some of his sentiments, if not so predictable, were especially pertinent. On the importance of trade, he said:

Look, probably the great unsung triumph so far of the twenty-first century was the lifting of 400 million Chinese people out of extreme poverty—through trade.”

Furthermore, he urged governments to stop erecting …

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