While Britain’s ‘Team Brexit’ and the EU’s Jean Claude Juncker haggle over Brexit minutiae, they may fondly, perhaps arrogantly imagine that their situation is unique. Really? Nafta, the North American Free Trade Area, is doing much the same thing, and not faring much better.

Mexico, a warm, and warmly hospitable country, racked by crime and unemployment, depends for its economic survival on supplying the US with fruit, veg and cheap labour, its economy fuelled by US factories conveniently sited just inside the Mexican border where labour is cheap and plentiful.

To the north, Canada fiercely maintains its economic and cultural independence from its somewhat over-bearing neighbour. The Dominion of Canada remains the country’s formal, if seldom used national title, with the Queen as its titular Head. Each of the ten provinces of Canada has a separate Parliament and administration, with a Lieutenant-Governor representing The Queen, appointed by the Governor-General in Council, at the head of the executive.

A proud Republic, the USA is NAFTA’s largest member, knows it, and acts like it. In addition, the US is paranoid about terrorism, and crossing its borders brings back memories of the pre-1990 Iron Curtain separating democratic from communist Europe.

An odd and somewhat dysfunctional trio if ever there was one. And how do their trade talks go?

From the New York Times, August 16, 2017:

“The renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement was off to a rocky start.

“The Trump administration lectured Canada and Mexico on the failures of the current agreement at an opening news conference Wednesday morning, while behind closed doors US negotiators began to seek significant concessions from America’s neighbors.

“We feel that Nafta has fundamentally failed many, many Americans and needs major improvement,” said Robert Lighthizer, the United States trade representative, who is leading the United States team aiming to overhaul the 25-year-old agreement.”

And when, eventually, all’s said and done, agreement is reached and the shouting dies down, Canada still levies border charges on a wide range of American products.

But one vital factor endures: each country remains independent, freely negotiating from a standpoint of independence, willing to give and take in the interests of mutual benefit, but with absolutely no question of being ‘pushed around’.

Britain too is an independent nation: a geographical, historical, cultural and political fact whether or not the EU chooses to ‘recognize’ it. And Britain must negotiate freely from a standpoint of independence, willing to give and take in the interests of mutual benefit, but with absolutely no question of being ‘pushed around’.

First, Leave, if not by immediate mutual agreement, then by Unilateral Declaration.

Then talk. And be sure that, as with NAFTA, mutual benefit and common sense will find solutions.

Check the follow-up:

Development Banking for Jobs and Productivity




Britain Forward