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EU and Japan create world's biggest free trade zone (dw.com)
604 points by Nux 5 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 383 comments



Japan has avoided the madness of tariffs and trade wars that has affected the west recently. Instead they have been quietly negotiating trade deals with everyone and generally getting along. Good on them!

Also it includes cheese, which will make westerners in Japan very happy.


For those interested in why - Japan always had very high tariffs on cheese (40% on WTO, 37.5% on EU). In comparison, the US has a general tariff of 10% on cheese, with many exceptions making it 0%.

http://www.customs.go.jp/english/tariff/2019_2/data/e_04.htm

https://hts.usitc.gov/?query=cheese

Similarly high tariffs across the board on most imports has been the norm in Japan for decades, with many agricultural products also having quota limits. This led to potato shortages in 2017.

Free trade is great when applied evenly. If it takes reciprocative pressure from the US to cause others think differently and change the status quo, so be it.


> Free trade is great when applied evenly.

Free trade is great even when applied unevenly.


Here's one thing I find funny though about this argument (Econ 101, yet correct, yet complicated):

The argument for free trade is an efficiency argument (comparative advantage, Ricardo, Hecksher-Ohlin yada yada) that it's unambiguously better, but it's predicated on redistribution: The reason that free trade is unambiguously better is that you can compensate all the "losers" of free trade so that they're as well off as before, and you still have extra income left (to distribute, in theory, as desired politically).

Economics mostly shies away from inter-personal utility comparisons (they're hard to grapple with) and prefers the notion of "pareto improvements" (where at least someone is better off without anyone being worse of). Trade theory uses this device of redistribution to show that a free trade is a pareto improvement.

But then, in the real world, many advocates of free trade suddenly forget about this part of the argument, and when some sectors of society profit handsomely and many (often workers) end up on the street, they suddenly remember their free-market credentials and argue that no, one cannot redistribute, the free market is optimal and fair and pays everyone their marginal product and yada yada yada.

Funny, that amnesia in the middle.


This is because the strongest advocates of free trade don't treat economics as a useful model, they treat it as doctrine.


I don't know where you got this idea, but the argument for comparative advantage has nothing to do with the redistribution of income, nor is there a claim of "fairness" towards each and every individual or interest group.

To understand why comparative advantage is an advantage, you must consider the alternative: Economic protectionism. It results in inefficient allocation of labor, because everyone's job is protected. Everyone pays more for everyone else's labor, everyone is less productive. This affects the poor the most, because they spent the biggest share of their income on basic goods and services.

Of course there are economic winners and losers, but by attempting to fully protect everyone, everyone becomes a loser, as evidenced by the countless failed attempts at socialism.


Perhaps the parent missed something in the yada yada.

I'm not sure why people fail to see the benefits of free trade and specialization in their own lives. Just imagine working all day long, out in field, just to put food on your own table! Why would it be a good idea for certain size groups and not others?


Sorry, nobody is denying the benefits of free trade and specialisation, come on. However, there are people that suffer from the changes, and contrary to the ideal world of econ 101, they're not immediately redeployed in a more productive sector etc.

Now the remarkable thing about free trade/specialisation is that we can help those people and still be better off overall. And I'm arguing that in some case we should actually do that.

I'm really not sure what's so complicated about the argument: Economic analysis shows that with free trade a country as a whole can afford more than without (which is insufficient to state that everyone is better off, thus insufficient to state that the country is better off), and using the device of redistribution/compensation you can show that everyone in that country can be made better off.


> Sorry, nobody is denying the benefits of free trade and specialisation, come on.

Then explain the current resurgence of protectionism right now. This redistribution argument has very little to do with trade, and actually undermines it. You don't have to go very far to see the impact automation has had and will have on certain segments of the population, so why are we muddying the waters with the downside of free trade here?

Now I agree with you that those affected by trade (and technological advances), or who are vulnerable should be helped. Since there's always some other threat out there to our collective prosperity, there's really no reason why we can't talk about tax policy, UBI, education at the same time. But we can't kill these geese laying the golden eggs.


> explain the current resurgence of protectionism

Sorry, I meant nobody is denying the benefits of free trade in this discussion here.

> This redistribution argument has very little to do with trade

But it does. Trade only makes everything better if you do redistribute. That's the whole point. Without redistribution, it's expected and even legitimate that some sectors object to, and reject free trade.


> the argument for comparative advantage has nothing to do with the redistribution of income

But it has.

Comparative advantage shows you that the country as a whole can afford more with free trade than before.

But one of the theoretical consequences of the Heckscher-Ohlin trade model [1] is factor price equalisation, ie in once country wages might fall while returns to capital increase. Inevitably, there are winners and losers.

Now, since economics rightfully shies away from inter-personal utility comparison, that does not tell you whether the country as a whole is better off; unless you invoke redistribution, such that everyone has at least as much as before (now you can say that everyone is (weakly) better off, and some strongly, and thus the country).

This is well understood (see eg [2] for some more on this issue, quoting James Kwak, & I'm pretty sure Krugman has articulated the same). (This, btw, is not an argument from authority, but an answer to "I don't know where you got the idea")

> Of course there are economic winners and losers, but by attempting to fully protect everyone, everyone becomes a loser

How about comparing to northern Europe, and not some dystopia nobody is arguing for anymore?

My point was that the case for free trade is good and valid, and it rests on (and should go along with) redistribution/compensation.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heckscher–Ohlin_model

[2] http://www.samefacts.com/2015/05/everything-else/free-trade-...


Redistribution is required for Pareto efficiency (improvement without making any individual worse off). https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pareto_efficiency

Free trade allows exchanges that make both involved parties better off, but possibly harms others (higher cost producers). This can be done without redistribution.

It is interesting that you suggest that existing producers deserve compensation. Why? Do they have some innate right to their previous business model or profession?

Sugar producers in the US have been protected for decades by trade policy that increases the costs for all sugar consumers in the US. I don't know that they deserve that protection but it would be cheaper to just compensate them at a decreasing rate to get them out of the business, rather than perpetually enforcing higher sugar prices.

Oops, make that centuries - the US sugar industry developed in part because of tariffs https://scholarworks.montana.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/1/25... page 18 "Ballinger (1975) asserts that when the United States acquired the Louisiana Territory in 1803, the fledgling sugar industry there immediately benefited from tariff protection, hence spurring its development." Do they still deserve compensation if harmed by free trade? They've already been compensated by unfree trade...


Comparative advantage shows that production in either countries is improved, increasing supply and therefore putting pressure on prices, increasing the purchasing power. This simply isn't redistribution of income.

An individual worker, whose livelihood is destroyed and who is unable to perform any other form of work (unlikely, but conceivable) will of course have less than before. I don't see anybody making the argument that every single individual will be better off (that's obviously wrong), but the purchasing power of every individual income will increase.

You can make an argument that such inequalities should be mitigated by some income-redistributing measure or another, but that's orthogonal to comparative advantage itself.


Taxing and social services aren't the only way that redistribution occurs. When people are rich enough, they become lazy tourists. Then they travel to poor countries and spend money in restaurants, hotels etc.

Similarly, hard working immigrants travel from poor countries to rich countries to do menial work that rich people can't be bothered with. They often send some money back home.

If the US can sell their excess maize in poor countries, it lowers the cost of food for the poor people in those countries. (Especially true when the local harvest is poor)


Surprised this was being downvoted because it is true. If countries engage in protectionism unilaterally, they are predominantly harming their own consumers and undermining competition of their own businesses.

As Friedman used to point out, if Japan wants to subsidize its steel at the cost of their own taxpayers, just take the cheap steel and be thankful for it.


Which works fine until they own a monopoly to a business with high cost of entry and decide to raise prices again. Things like this are rarely simple.


Precisely, if your subsidized monopoly can afford to take the hit for a decade or two - the international competition starts dying, their facilities and towns shutter, and locally accumulated institutional knowledge and its transfer disappears. African agriculture and industry suffered similarly in the 20th century due to decades of ham-fisted global charity (essentially subsidized commodity dumping).

There are complex consequences, and the rebound when opportunities re-emerge isn't anywhere as rapid as the fall.


Maybe, but that involves burning a lot of resources in a sort of crazy hope that nobody is going to try and compete when you start making money again.

Africa is an interesting case in point - I don't know very much about the average case, but I remember Zimbabwe gutted themselves, going from the Bread Basket of Africa to famine in a very short period of time with no particular effort from outside forces. There is a strong case the Africa's economic problems are more attributable to their struggles to organise politically rather than charity and dumping from external economies (which probably hasn't helped or hindered in the big picture). Maybe we can peg the organisational issues on foreign countries; but it is going to be more complicated than that.

Take China. Their protectionist policies probably have an impact, but most of their advantage is they are organised, politically stable, willing to work more for less pay and have a culture that believes in investment and education. Without government handicaps like Maoist Communism, that is a very formidable set of attributes in a competitor.


That's basically the fallacy of predatory pricing. It doesn't work. Sure, you can raise prices after killing the competition, but only so far as to not revive the competition. Your price ends up as the fair market price. Cost of entry is irrelevant here, it's a cost like any other.


Sure, except that reviving the competition costs money in its own right many times - it's usually not a Bitcoin miner that can be turned off when it's unprofitable and turned on again with the flick of a switch when it becomes profitable to run.

So your price ends up at fair market price... when averaged over many decades, maybe, but likely not for long at any particular point in time. And in the meantime workers get screwed over as industries and skillsets lose economic value.


The electric furnaces that dominate the modern US steel industry sort of are like bitcoin miners that can be turned on and off. They often only run during times when electricity is cheaper.

Not entirely of course, but the ratio of labor to productivity is really large, they don't engage a lot of workers to begin with. Look at how much larger the electricity costs are than labor:

https://www.steelonthenet.com/cost-eaf.html


First of all, where's the evidence of these supposed high-entry monopolies? Seems more like a thought experiment to me.

Secondly, you're only looking at the negative consequences for some workers. You're not looking at the benefit to all workers, who pay lower prices as result of cheaper labor from abroad.

Suppose workers had been guaranteed their jobs for life because of protectionist policies. This is called mercantilism. Everybody pays more for everyone else's labor and nobody can benefit from comparative advantage. As a result, everyone is poorer. This has been known for centuries and it has been accepted by economists across the political spectrum. Yet politically, protectionism never ceases to lose appeal.


Have you tried producing and assembling electronics in the west?

You don't have shops to buy parts anymore, you don't have assembly lines anymore, you don't have people trained in this anymore.

If China decided tomorrow to increase the costs of the electronics they export, you'd have to accept that.

Apple tried their best to move even some assembly back to the US, and couldn't even get the simplest custom screws made in the amounts they need. Only a single small company still had the tech to make them, and they couldn't produce enough, fast enough.

It's not just a single monopoly, the problem is that entire industries are gone, and it'd take decades to train workers and regain the institutional knowledge.

And this is just one example.

And your argument has one more flaw: free trade reduces costs of products, and wages. But it won't affect cost of housing (except over a timespan of decades due to cheaper labor and materials, but it still won't solve cost of land). Nor will it affect cost of utilities.

In our household, we're now spending 71% of our budget on rent and utilities. Under more protectionist policies, I might pay 20% more for products, but I'd also be making 20% more wages — and as result, I'd be better off (in fact, my disposable income after rent, utilities and food would almost triple)


> Have you tried producing and assembling electronics in the west?

Of course not, U.S. labor is far too expensive to do the kind of menial work required to assemble electronics, unless maybe it's a repair shop for certain products.

> You don't have shops to buy parts anymore, you don't have assembly lines anymore, you don't have people trained in this anymore.

You don't need "local shops" to purchase parts for assembly lines. Ask Elon Musk if the biggest challenge in building an assembly line is procuring the parts, he will say: No. You have a worldwide integrated economy where you can buy basically anything. The number one challenge is labor cost.

In any event, training people for electronics assembly is trivial. If you can take apart an iPhone and put it back together, you're good.

> If China decided tomorrow to increase the costs of the electronics they export, you'd have to accept that.

"China" doesn't decide the costs of electronics, individual businesses do. But even if China was dumb enough to slap tariffs on their own exports, there are plenty of alternatives. There is no monopoly. In fact, China is doing the exact opposite: They are artificially lowering the value of their currency to stay competitive.

You should also really look into how electronics are actually produced, there are numerous countries involved in it, each specialized into particular parts:

http://www.worldstopexports.com/electronic-circuit-component...

> It's not just a single monopoly, the problem is that entire industries are gone, and it'd take decades to train workers and regain the institutional knowledge.

Actually, a lot of institutional knowledge remains with the companies that just use labor abroad. However, it also leaks into the domestic industry, that's why you have a lot of companies complaining about "IP theft" from China.

The broader point remains: There is no monopoly. There is plenty of competition. Even if for a "relatively" short period of time (decades) there where to exist a monopoly, it could only sustain its higher prices for so long as it stays unprofitable to rebuild that infrastructure. At that point the "monopoly pricing" becomes "fair pricing".

> In our household, we're now spending 71% of our budget on rent and utilities.

You should probably look into what building regulation (artificial scarcity) does to the price of rent. You can't blame free trade for that.

> Under more protectionist policies, I might pay 20% more for products, but I'd also be making 20% more wages — and as result, I'd be better off (in fact, my disposable income after rent, utilities and food would almost triple)

First of all, why do you assume that rent and utilities would not rise in tandem with the cost of goods? Why do you believe rent in Silicon Valley is so high? It's the scarcity combined with the high wages of the tech workers.

Secondly, you are losing your competitive advantage. You are worse off.


There are more things than price that can prevent competition from reappearing once it became extinguished.

If there is a constant threat of the prices being lowered again, it will be pointless to reinvest in restarting competition - the monopolist at any time can lower the prices back down.

Also, in some fields the monopolistic position gives network effects to the producer that cannot be replicated by an upstart, making a competition unlikely.


On the subject of Friedman, what was his take on how to address the deep personal losses suffered by tens of thousands of US based steel industry workers who lose their jobs? Many of these people become unemployed or underemployed for years.

They seem to be taking a pretty big loss. Surely Friedman didn't expect them to just "take one for the team." I don't know. Maybe he did? Not sure.


Friedman's response to this was that there is always cost to some policy. The cost of protectionism just happens to fall on the majority of people which have no particular voice.

Protecting the local steel industry might be good for the steel workers, but it raises prices for everyone else in the economy who consumes steel. Now certainly every time someone's job is disrupted by competition it is personally tragic, but why do the interests of one particular interest group weigh in larger than the well-being of everyone else?


> why do the interests of one particular interest group weigh in larger than the well-being of everyone else?

then, if I interpret this correctly, Friedman's idea truly was that laid-off steelworkers "take one for the team"


What about the "deep personal losses" suffered in the garment industry, in electronics, in agriculture?

What about all the people that lost their jobs as a result of technological progress? What of those poor ice pickers, who lost their livelihood to the invention of the refrigerator?


right. more examples of the same. economic gains are unevenly distributed and some workers experience a deep net loss.

so, what regulatory or governmental policies and programs did Friedman think could actually help people once they arrive in that state? what can an economist say about policy for workers whose livelihood disappeared?


Supposedly you can offer adult re-training, free if your industry is in a decline.


I know what Friedman thinks of tariffs in general, but I like to think that he'd be at least somewhat understanding of the scenario we are currently in, where the endgame is to have lower tariffs on both sides.


> If countries engage in protectionism unilaterally, they are predominantly harming their own consumers and undermining competition of their own businesses.

That must be why economies such as China, Japan, and South Korea stayed economic basket cases in the late 20th century. Because of their protectionism.


Japan is definitely harming its own citizens since they have to pay high price for about everything compared to the standards of about every other country out there. When something is too expensive you dont buy it anymore and it reduces internal growth.


"Surprised this was being downvoted because it is true. If countries engage in protectionism unilaterally, they are predominantly harming their own consumers and undermining competition of their own businesses."

This worked quite well for countries building up their own industries (Brazil, Korea, Japan, possible China).

"As Friedman used to point out, if Japan wants to subsidize its steel at the cost of their own taxpayers, just take the cheap steel and be thankful for it."

It becomes a problem if a country like China with state capitalism uses this to systematically destroy other industries.


VAT in the EU behaves in a similar manner as a tariff would. Yet we seem to be doing rather okay in that sense.


The VAT income of the state is the same regardless of where the product was manufactured. So it's not like a tariff at all.


with that kind of logic then you should increase VAT 3 or 4 fold and things would be even better for everyone?


This 'great' only applies to society as a super-organism. Are you really suggesting uneven trade has no casualties on the individual level?


Of course not. One could give any number of examples where a benefit for society takes precedence over that of the individual.


You seem like an awfully reasonable person. I figure that I should say what prompted my response was having read about agrarian suicides blamed on subsidized goods, India in particular. A quick search makes it seem pretty common.


"Free trade is great even when applied unevenly."

Is it?

Lets assume a real FTA with the EU and Mercosul. Result? EU agriculture will nearly collapse, and Brasilian industry will nearly collapse. Sure, prices of electronics, cars and consumer goods will be lower in Brazil and food prices will be lower in the EU.

Trade barriers helped countries like Brazil, Korea, Japan and likely China to build up their own industries before agreeing to FTA. I am in favor of FTA but I am not sure that they are a solution to every problem.


It's not exactly like that. But I think I share your point of view


Protectionism is economically the same thing as an embargo. Yet we use protectionism to protect an economy, and an embargo to punish an economy.

There are valid reasons for protectionism, but prosperity isn't one of them.


> Also it includes cheese, which will make westerners in Japan very happy.

As a German living in Japan for the past four months I somewhat doubt that's going to change a lot. Maybe some lower prices in speciality stores, but I can't imagine my local supermarkets to stock more different cheese or that demand is rising just because a small piece of Camembert costs still expensive 3€ instead of 4€ (roughly converted from ¥), which I buy for 50 Cents in Germany.

The prices are also so high, because it's an exotic food with no use in the local cousine, meaning low demand.


>Also it includes cheese

One of the best international treaties I've heard of


I still remember how horridly expensive cheese was in Japan. This is excellent news.


One of the weird, nearly constant cultural boundaries is fermented foods. I suspect even without the tariffs cheese will still be expensive in Japan.

It doesn't really 'go' with a lot of the cuisine. I mean, if you handed me donburi with cheese in it I'd probably say, "Okay, that's weird but it could work so let me try it," but I'm wracking my brain trying to think what other dishes you could fit in it. Certainly ethnic food from Europe and the Americas, but how else would you go about naturalizing cheese into the diet?


Cheese (at least in France) is not a topping but something consumed after the main course (and with bread).

I could see a donbury followed by some mild cheeses.

Perhaps stronger cheeses might even go with bonito flakes or other dried fish products. I'm sure some experimentation in pairing could yield some interesting results.


Unless you're eating fondue, raclette, tartiflette, cheese with charcuterie, etc.


That's probably only France, where cheese after meals is common.

While it's frequently used as a topping in Italian cousine, it's nearly exclusively eaten on top of slices of (dark) bread as a standalone dish in German cousine (though Germans eat a lot of Italian food).

The most American use of cheese (i.e. not Italian cousine related) is maybe the cheese flavored corn-snacks (e.g. cheetos).


While cheese is used also as topping in Italy (in particular Parmigiano cheese and the likes) I think it's main usage is after meals, at least in northern Italy (not sure about south). In fact we have a saying that goes like "The mouth is not tired [of eating] if it doesn't taste of milk", meaning that the ending act of a meal is eating some cheese.


Interesting. Have been in Italy a bunch of times as it's fairly close from Bavaria, but didn't know that!


Cheese is often consumed as "otsumami" (a snack meant to be paired with alchohol) in Japan. It is eaten standalone [1], mixed with fish [2], or as a flavor in junk food [3].

These products are incredibly common in Japan and can be found at any super market or convenience store in the country. Japan loves cheese too... just not as much as Europe or the US.

[1] https://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B0084X5UBE/

[2] https://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B00LBWPLVE/

[3] https://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B079SBWPL3/


I'm not sure about your definition of often. I have not seen a Japanese eating cheese or even stopping at the small cheese collection in my local supermarket in the last four months I've been here.

I think price above value is a somewhat good indicator how commonly used a product actually is. The Camembert you linked also costs between ¥400 and ¥600 in my local supermarket. That's a 5-8 times price increase to Camembert of the same or I think even larger size in German supermarkets. The price imho indicates this is a exotic rarely used speciality.

Milk and Jogurth on the other hand have only a smaller 30-50% price increase to German supermarkets for the same quantity and quality. I also see Japanese frequently buying these.


I'll have to insist on nominating the grilled cheese sandwich. We are big on our comfort food.

But I think we might have also inflicted 'cheese food' (cheese 'flavored', processed food) on the world and I do apologize for that.


> That's probably only France, where cheese after meals is common.

Very common in the UK too


In Australia, cheese is also commonly eaten as a prelude to a meal, or as a snack (often with alcohol).


Adding Quebec to the list of places where cheese is eaten after meals.


Isn't that probably a French tradition in Quebec, considering it's a French speaking province?


Mac & Cheese though.


So you're insisting that other cultures eat your fermented food as a standalone dish instead of as an ingredient, even after someone (me) pointed out how often that strategy fails?

Oh boy.


Sushi goes very well with cream cheese added as part of the filling, e.g. Philadelphia roll. Pork Donburi with grated cheese on top, maybe Gauda, would be a great fit. Also possible for a Yakiniku bento. You could also use a cheese dip for Yakitori. That's basically also the dishes I eat most of the time.

God, I'm getting homesick again. Food is such an essential part of feeling home and you only realize this once it's missing for long enough. Eating good European cousine in Japan is complicated and pretty expensive.


"Sushi goes very well with cream cheese added as part of the filling, e.g. Philadelphia roll."

Your parent was talking about japanese food so this is a bit of a non-sequitur ...


I'm aware that this kind of sushi roll isn't traditionally Japanese. But GP was talking about which Japanese food might go well with cheese. Sushi with cream cheese is a battle tested example from the west.


Sushi rolls are not traditionally Japanese. You will typically see sashimi, not sushi rolls, in Japan. The type of sushi Americans eat is not at all like what is eaten in Japan, and is frankly pretty terrible in comparison.

And you will never, ever, see cream cheese on sushi in Japan.


I'm living in Japan for the last four months. I'm very well aware that the inside-out maki we got in the West are not Japanese. Sashimi is not at all the typical meal, in fact it's actually not even sushi. You won't find it on most sushi platters as commonly used for parties and not even in running Sushi restaurants (yes, they are also very common here), but you will mostly find Nigiri. In supermarkets bento area you get big rolls with different fillings, but still wrapped in nori and not as fancy. Today I had a big roll with fried chicken steak in it and tonkatsu sauce on top.

But again, the discussion was what traditionally Japanese food might go well with cheese. That it's not used today is not a counter argument in this discussion.


The reason cream cheese is not used is because they don't want it on sushi. You can find cheese on sandwiches and pizza in Japan pretty easily.

Cream cheese isn't popular in Europe either.


What's your point in derailing and making wrong statements? Cream cheese goes well inside (not on top) of sushi, which is backed by it's popularity outside of Japan. Which was a reply to GP saying cheese doesn't "go" with Japanese cuisine. None of your replies make any counter argument relevant to that, because it has nothing to do with current usage, but with future possibilities.

It might not be the first choice of most Japanese, if they kew about it, but neither is pizza. Pizza is, like cheese in supermarkets, an overpriced exotic or tourist meal. Sandwiches are a notable exception of affordable western style food here.

> Cream cheese isn't popular in Europe either.

It actually originated in England and it's extremely popular in Germany. You can find multiple types even in Aldi (the cheapest supermarket with smallest selection in Germany).

I'm honestly curious on what experience you are basing your conclusions. It seems to me it's based on short trip tourism.


- Four months is short trip tourism.

- Japanese people aren't ignorant. They don't want cream cheese on their sushi, or gobs of mayonnaise or whatever else you are accustomed to. The california rolls you enjoy are not the same as Japanese cuisine eaten by Japanese people living in Japan.

- Aldi supermarkets aren't really representative of Western European tastes. You can find American food anywhere in Europe if you look for it.


Fun fact: Today I bought a self-cut sushi roll assortment in the bento area of my local supermarket in Kansai and one of them was with cream cheese in it. They have some special this week.

https://imgur.com/a/ZUMxDQ5

But maybe sushi in local Kansai supermarkets isn't representative of Japanese culture mixing new stuff with traditional cuisine. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


You must be fun at parties.

> Aldi supermarkets aren't really representative of Western European tastes.

Sure, what do I know about food representative of Germany as a German. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


Japan uses cheese in its curries. There's also Japanese cheesecake.


> nearly constant cultural boundaries is fermented foods

Interesting point. I think with horror of the "1000 year old eggs" in China. Kimchi is somewhat more agreeable... somewhat.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Century_egg


I dunno. Objectively speaking, cheese is pretty disgusting. I've eaten all kinds of things, including infamous items like balut, dog, stinky tofu, belacan, sheep brain, etc.

I'm American and grew up with cheese and love cheese, but after having eaten all of those other things, you realize that the disgust factor of, say, a colorful, pungent chunk of blue cheese is exceptionally high. The smell, the texture, the mouth feel, the method of preparation, the source.

If you're a cheese lover than you're pretty much already at the top of the mountain in terms of disgusting foods. Internalize that notion and most other foods from around the world are a breeze.


Not sure what's up with the downvotes here, since this is objectively correct.

A Chinese friend of mine loves to regale listeners with tales of eating things consider outre even by famously expansive Cantonese standards (live mice etc), but he considers the idea of eating rotten, moldy cow lactations (blue cheese) to be beyond the pale.


you forgot the fact that it's coagulated using the insides of a calf's stomach!

(although depending on cheese, animal rennet may not be used)


Agree with all of you, which goes to show, exactly, the OP poster's point that fermented foods constitute fairly "constant cultural boundaries" (because evidently there's nothing much objective about me liking cheese and being disgusted by 1000 year eggs!)


It's objective in the sense that some types of food and method of preparation are nearly universally unobjectionable, notwithstanding tastes. For example, few people around the world would ever find raw vegetables or vegetables boiled in a soup disgusting, whatever the vegetable or regardless of whether they liked the taste. For example, most Westerns probably wouldn't be able to tolerate, let alone enjoy, bitter gourd soup. But I doubt it would inspire disgust (i.e. revulsion) in many such people.

Disgusting foods tend to strongly correlate with certain types of preparation, like fermentation, involve animals or animal byproducts, exhibit certain kinds of textures (e.g. soft or mushy), or have certain types of odors (e.g. rancid). That's what I meant by cheese being objectively disgusting--all the characteristics of cheese fall into categories that strongly correlate with disgusting foods.

Obviously each person's particular tastes and preferences are highly subjective. But from an anthropological viewpoint we can make some objective classifications because there are near universal qualitative characteristics of foods that various cultures find disgusting.

Some types of disgust are likely strongly innate rather than cultural, but that's beside the point. For example, for all I know Inuit might be much more likely to find simple vegetable preparations disgusting, so that the objective quality of vegetable soups generally being non-disgusting might simply be an artifact of the dispersal of human populations. But that wouldn't make qualitative classifications any less objective. A factor doesn't need to be innate, it just needs to be common.


You'll find American cheese in ham sandwiches on white bread sold in the 7-Elevens everywhere in Japan. And 7-Eleven food in Japan, as well as other Asian countries, is actually quite good. True story bro.


There is some excellent cheese made in Hokkaido. I especially like their Brie-ish cheeses. You can even pick them up in the Sapporo airport.


I do eat チーズカレー [1] pretty often, but admittedly I can't think of other Japanese meals incorporating cheese.

[1] Japanese curry with cheese


The problem with cheese is that its bacteries propagate into a host's brain and attack its nervous system. Most of France is controlled by human who are controlled themselves by cheese bacteries. Their plot is obviously to control the world through cheese expansion, so I don't know if we can let this happen.


So François Mitterrand was trying to send us a secret warning when he asked how you govern a country with 246 varieties of cheese?


That's pretty interesting, is it expensive for all types of cheese from like kraft singles to french brie?

Do you have any other stories of common EU/US items that are rare in Japan?


I might be being a bit of a snob, but in the context of a cheese-related discussion kraft singles don't really rate mention.


Say what you will about Kraft singles, but they melt like nothing else. Kraft doesn't belong everywhere, but it has foodie applications. [0]

[0] - https://www.seriouseats.com/2016/07/whats-really-in-american...


Ever tried to grill raclette, vacherinn, gruyère, camembert, reblochon etc? For a couple of raw milk cheeses that are either dedicated to eat grilled/melt or "cold". Anything like Kraft singles is a joke


There's a reason why people say "the best thing since sliced bread". Sliced cheese has similar structural advantages. What is convenient becomes popular - for better or worse.


You can buy some of those cheeses sliced or grated in the supermarket here. It's not a structural problem.


Plenty of cheeses melt better than those. A whole load of French cheeses are pretty much half melted already!


You can add emulsifying salts to any cheese you want to use in melted form though.


Are you even allowed to call them cheese? I thought they had to be labeled as a processed milk product or something.


They’re called “process cheese product”


Apparently that's the high end, the low end being "process American product slices". Not even allowed to use the word "cheese" in a name.


Most western food is likely more expensive. I can speak only for China.

- Cheese. Good Cheese is expensive.

- Milk is expensive

- Floss and mouth wash was uncommon and expensive until recently.

- dentures cleaners were super expensive (I use them for a retainer)

- Wine is expensive. Both, western and Chinese


> Also it includes cheese, which will make westerners in Japan very happy.

Now that's effectively a big news worth sharing!


Based on my understanding of Asian tastes, it likely will still make cheese a rather rare and expensive product. So I advise caution with the happiness.

Reminds me of the guy who brought a shitload of blue cheese to Brazil and was surprised that he could not find it in his fridge anymore. Asking his domestica (household helper) she answered: Oh, yes, I threw it away. It was totally rotten!


Cheese will only get to zero tariff 16 years later only. Read the specifics.


Canada has been doing the same [0]. A lot of effort does end up getting spent on managing relations with the U.S. which overshadows achievements elsewhere.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_trade_agreements_of_Canad...


We started to. Then we got caught up in the spat with the US. And now China. I’d say we’re out. :(


Oh I didn't know about the cheese. You have just made my wife and I very excited!

We have noticed a few things (kiwi fruit for example), becoming a lot cheaper lately(heck lopia had 12 for 600 yen last month!)


>Japan has avoided the madness of tariffs and trade wars that has affected the west recently. Instead they have been quietly negotiating trade deals with everyone and generally getting along. Good on them!

Bilateral trade negotiation is exactly what Trump wants thought that's causing all of this shit.


is it really "the west"? AFAIK it's just "the US".

The EU also signed a trade deal lowering tariffs with Canada (CETA) last year.


While lack of tariffs is nice, as a small-time seller, complying with all these VAT, taxing rules (Germany added new requirement in 2019 to obtain some kind of new tax certificate which is not related to VAT certificate) makes it quite complicated from compliance point alone. But I guess it represents general attitude towards business in europe. Not sure how it is like in Japan.

[edit] What I mean is that it is all fine if you can justify hiring a consulting service or actually establish an office there. But if you are too small for that - local rules makes it quite hard to sell in this market. So while free-trade indeed a positive, it is positive only for larger sellers.


That's true. But there is some progress on that as well. From Jan 2019, the so called VAT MOSS (mini one stop shop) is open to companies from outside the EU as well: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/vat-changes-to-th...

I don't know how it works exactly, but it means that you can now supply digital goods and services to all EU countries after getting registered with the VAT MOSS instead of registering for VAT in every single EU country.

Also, for very small suppliers there is now a €10,000 (p.a) threshold (total sales into the EU) below which you don't have to charge VAT at all.


Just a perspective - €10k with a margin of 5% (is what I see after all the expenses for such a small volume) leaves you with €500 to comply with regulations. VAT compliance with the just UK costs us 700 GBP per year so far and few hours each quarter.


Cost/bureaucracy of doing business is a common annoyance unfortunately, not exclusive to one or other country and those should be passed onto the consumer.

These are rarely trivial on a small scale, small margin business.


That, as well as a way for companies to stiff competition - https://sermondo.com/the-new-german-packaging-law-amazon-fba... : "Not participating in the system may be punished with a fine of up to € 200,000. It is conceivable that competitors will enforce the distribution ban by civil law."


IIRC being below the 10.000 limit means you are allowed to charge the VAT from the EU country you are based, also for sales outside your country, I don't think it allows you to charge no VAT at all (that would probably be too easy to abuse)


Yes, but for small businesses that often means no VAT at all. For instance, the VAT registration threshold here in the UK is £85,000. Yet, until last month, you would have had to register for VAT even if you sold just pennies worth of (digital) goods into other EU countries.

I'm not quite sure how it affects US companies. There is no sales tax on exports from the US. So I think even if a US company would normally charge state level sales taxes on local sales, they would no longer have to charge VAT on any sales into the EU below 10,000. But I could easily be wrong on that.

I'm not an accountant.


That's where resellers come in. If you sell something like software, you can use a reseller like Fastspring, and they deal with taxes world wide. Since they sell the software, they owe VAT and GST and sales tax and whatnot -- you don't.

They take a generous markup (6-9%), but for small sellers, it's a good deal.


Paddle is another option (https://paddle.com/). They charge 5%.


> Germany added new requirement in 2019 to obtain some kind of new tax certificate

Is it the tax residence one? We have had it in my country since 2017 and it has been a major PITA when working with smaller partners from US/Canada.


I did not actually research it in depth, just posted what Amazon provided to all sellers. My plan is to quickly dispose of existing stock and quit these markets, as my sales do not justify trying to comply with local rules.

To be fair, if USA states would start enforcing sales tax collection on foreign sellers - it would be the same story. But for now at the very least states go mostly after out of state sellers, not foreign ones.

[EDIT] relevant discussion - https://sellercentral-europe.amazon.com/forums/t/anyone-regi...

Another one catching up - https://sellercentral.amazon.co.uk/forums/t/getting-ready-fo...


Encouraging small businesses to trade internationally should be a focus of trade deals.


Canada recently made a trade deal with the EU as well.

Our country (Canada) hasn't been pushing harder enough for this IMO, considering how greatly we benefitted from NAFTA it should have been our top policy objective for the last couple decades.

Modern countries would rather get lost in decades long mega-deals with 1000 conditions for every political crony connection / special-interest group ever than get an actual real "free trade" deal done.

There are still so many things that are ridiculously expensive in Canada for no rational (long term) benefit to either party assuming it was a real market. When you could drive an hour south to the US and get countless things for 25% cheaper (clothes, shoes, cars, etc) not to mention the lack of access to media (streaming sites) and sports blackout contracts.


>There are still so many things that are ridiculously expensive in Canada for no rational (long term) benefit to either party assuming it was a real market.

I cannot find the link but no surprises when there was a report (from one of the EU organizations) that we pay the highest cell phone fees.


The high cellphone + ISP fees in Canada are a result of the monopoly the ~2-3 telecom companies were given by government a few decades back to "accelerate" broadband and mobile infrastructure development.

The only positive tradeoff we've gotten out of decades of paying 25-50% more per month than most countries is that our networks have been cutting edge. We got 3g, 4g, etc before almost everyone. But I don't attribute this to the gov, their investment was long ago, but rather the competence of executives being smart enough to maintain their monopoly without falling into the trap of falling behind as many monopolies do before being trumped by economic progress/tech (ie, see the taxi monopoly lack of tech investment before Uber/Lyft), and via the massive margins they get out of their monopoly pricing providing plenty of capital investment to prevent any sort of competition.


I doubt there are many countries with more than two or three competing networks. There may be a few more resellers, or even several dozens. But it’s just uneconomical to build the hardware five times over.

In any case, a FTA is not going to change it.


So how does that explain the high cost of our networks vs other countries? I'm not convinced a regulated oligopoly is the only positive option.

If anything it's only positive for:

a) the private friends of government who profited when the business was kept 100% Canadian

b) the intelligence agencies who were given plenty of access.

Most of the ownership capital went to a small group of millionaires and billionaires. Meanwhile the jobs/network/other taxable services would still exist in Canada regardless of the nationality of the original investors.

Plus the wireless networks continue to be very closely controlled in these companies favour. They only recently allowed a single competitor into the marketplace in Canada, Freedom Mobile, and they have the best pricing with tons of data. The main monopolies still have nothing comparable price-wise - their only edge remains their network investment which will diminish over time absent more gov intervention.

But even getting Freedom Mobile, which had plenty of foreign investors, to be a thing was a huge controversial, challenging, multi-year deal, which was extremely risky for its investors because the Canadian regulatory agencies were very close to nipping the deal under extreme political pressure from the entrenched companies.

How exactly do we as citizens benefit from this?


I don’t know.. Maybe Canada requires these networks to serve even the rural parts of the country? That would seem to be expensive. Or they charged extremely high license fees. Those work like a tax, making the specific service more expensive, but allowing for government services or lowering your other taxes.

In any case, it seems like you are maybe focusing too much on conspiratorial explanations like corruption and sourveillance. I know it’s easy and somewhat satisfying to immediately assume bad faith, but if you always assume the worst, that is what you will end up with. Because if honest politicians trying to balance the complex and competing interests of a modern society somewhat fairly, and then get spit in the face whenever they meet someone in the streets, soon you will have driven out the honest ones, or their will to remain honest. Because why bother, when the reaction is completely disconnected from your accruing, anyway?


If they don't do their utmost to remain on top for their customers, they lose... and they have to be careful because competitors are constantly trying to get in. Sure, WIND (now Freedom under Shaw) and the like happened in the past ... but I'm in Sasktel region and it's very hard to compete with Sasktel. (better infrastructure and much lower pricing than any of the others ... but basically Saskatchewan only, although roaming seems to work anywhere well thanks to treaties between the companies)

I mean sure they can sit on the licenses they have and just keep pressure on (cough Telus) but ... they'll lose any moment new tech moves in, or competitors with the right backing.


I'm pretty sure that having "just" 3 networks don't explain the costs by themselves. My country has 3 networks and we have one of the lowest prices in EU.

What probably does make it expensive is big territory with little population density.


Freedom Mobile is owned by Shaw nowadays. There is also Public Mobile (which started as an independent provider but is now owned by Telus).


80% of CDN exports go to the US and so a deal with the EU won't be creating that much value. We trade a lot with China otherwise.

"There are still so many things that are ridiculously expensive in Canada for no rational (long term) benefit to either party assuming it was a real market"

This is because Canada has what some might describe as an inefficient economy, ruled by a small cabal of oligarchic players.

We have maybe 6-7 banks nationally, each with a different coloured logo, but with the exact same services!

There are other reasons of course.

Also, Canadian national policy has always been about 'peace and stability' over market ambitions, so 'somewhat higher pr ices might literally be the price we pay for that.


>80% of CDN exports go to the US and so a deal with the EU won't be creating that much value

Yeah, but what about after the deal? It makes sense that pre-free trade, there wouldn't be as much business.


Canada is sort-of not allowed to enter into trade deals without the USAs permission now... so its hard now. I'm worried about Canada being so easy to bully lately. I think the best defence is to get stronger economically, but all our tech talent is going south

(Note: kicked out of NAFTA if WD 'disobey')

https://www.cbc.ca/news/opinion/canada-usmca-1.4845494


"For the first time, the trade agreement includes countries' Paris climate deal commitments."

This is a brilliant answer to the tragedy of the commons. Often times people ask why they should make great efforts to be more environmentally friendly when other groups are not. This creates multiparty incentives attached to real economic benefits to keep their word on climate change. I hope The US, China, and Russia all enter economic agreements with similar clauses.

EDIT: I didn't mean to single out those three countries. All countries should include these clauses in their economic agreements. India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Canada are top ten polluters that are not covered in this specific agreement or mentioned by me above.


Hardly. The countries already made these non binding commitments, there is still no penalty for breaking them, and they bear no resemblance to what would be required to stay below 1.5C or 2C (the supposed headline achievement of Paris).

They were not negotiated on either - they are just what each country has said it would do.


There is technically a penalty, but it's unlikely to be enforced - if one party breaches their commitments, they could be considered in breach of the agreement and the other party would have license to break it.


As the effects of climate change become worse I suspect enforcement of these penalties to increase.


The TPP would have folded in a bunch of environmental protection rules, but the US blew it up. It's debatable how good these protections would have been, but they were not nothing.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trans-Pacific_Partnership#Envi...


The TPP had many other issues though.

Examples include criminal penalties for breaking DRM or disclosing trade secrets, and establishing an international tribunal that allows corporations to sue for monetary damages from a government that passes a law which they feel is discriminatory. (I know the US has trade agreements like this already, but it's a new thing for Australia -- and unfortunately we are now part of the new US-exempt TPP.)


What's your proposed alternative to this sort of international tribunal? To me it feels like obviously the correct solution, and e.g. the EU/EEA has this with the EFTA courts and the WTO has it with its courts. Point in favor:

1. It makes sense for a corporation in say Malaysia to be able to sue Australia over state subsidies, otherwise they need to convince their own governments to bring it up at the inter-state level, and Malaysia may consider it too small of an issue to piss off Australia

2. There needs to be one centralized enforcing mechanism. A Malaysian company can't sue the Australian government in its own courts (or Australia's), both would have an obvious bias towards their own country.

Even if we assume the courts are fair you'll create N^2 amount of enforcement relationships for the N countries in the deal. That's just redundant, and everyone has an interest in centrally set legal precedent.

3. There need to be damages so countries can't circumvent the trade deal with what amounts to state-sponsored favoritism with impunity.


Having a process like the ECJ or EFTA (where governments breaking international agreements can go through a tribunal process) is one thing. Giving corporations the ability to sue governments for laws that are "discriminatory" is another thing entirely.

In Australia we have a concrete example of what negative effects such a court would have. When we introduced plain packaging laws, many tobacco companies have attempted to use international trade agreement arbitration systems to overturn the law. They first tried persuading several governments (Ukraine, Cuba, Honduras and the Dominican Republic) to use the WTO court system to start legal proceedings against Australia[1]. When it looked like that attempt would fail, they tried to use the international arbitration system that was part of a trade agreement from 1939 that Australia has with Hong Kong[2]. This also failed because of a jurisdictional issue.

However if there was a court that was specifically designed to allow companies to sue governments for discrimination, Phillip Morris and similar tobacco companies would've had jurisdiction for such a claim (and likely they would've won, because the plain packaging laws explicitly discriminate against tobacco companies and were seen as very extreme at the time).

In fact, the only reason why the TPP explicitly excludes tobacco is because Australia complained and gave this same example. The response was just to remove tobacco from the agreement, not redesign the international tribunal system they wanted (which misses the point of the complaint). Unfortunately we've changed government since then, so we've now signed the new version of the TPP.

[1]: https://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/07/business/global/07iht-smo... [2]: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/dec/18/austr...


The presence of a central court that can regulate goverment that act rashly is one thing, to allow individual companies to sue governments is another.


Yes it's a different thing. I'm asking you to make the case that it's a bad thing, which you're not doing.

You're also assuming that all trade disputes are going to involve country X having an issue with country Y, whereas e.g. in the EU/EEA companies sometimes sue their own government for being in breach of the trade rules, and prevail in front of the EFTA court.

E.g. a meat importing company in Iceland sued the Icelandic state over the Icelandic government's ban on the import of fresh meat from the EU/EEA[1]. They prevailed, and now Iceland's having to allow that, over the objections of its powerful farming lobby.

It wouldn't have made sense for any foreign EU/EEA government to start a trade dispute with Iceland over this matter, but it got resolved because a local company was able to sue and have the EFTA court rule on the matter.

Why shouldn't the aggrieved party be able to sue?

1. http://www.eftasurv.int/media/press-releases/Fact-sheet-Icel...


As I mentioned in my sister comment, because we have evidence that allowing companies to do this would've resulted in the tobacco lobby being able to overturn public health laws in Australia (because they tried to do it within an arbitration courts that they didn't have jurisdiction in). If the TPP was signed in 2011, Australia would've had to pay damages to Phillip Morris for passing plain packaging laws (something that is now becoming a more common law in many jurisdictions).

The problem with the EFTA (or ECJ) comparison is that those courts are designed to deal with the laws and directives passed by the EU/EEA. The entire point of the EU/EEA is that members democratically vote on laws that will affect members -- thus a violation of said laws by a government is similar (in principle) to any other violation by a government where an individual can sue the government for violating a law.

The TPP arbitration process is not like this at all. There is no democratic agreement on common laws that member states must not violate -- it's a process to allow a corporation to sue a government for enacting "discriminatory" laws (unless those laws are "fair and proportionate" -- which obviously is a very wishy-washy constraint).


We've had this for a long time in NAFTA and it hasn't been a big deal:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Investor-state_dispute_settlem...


The people in the international tribunal come from somewhere. Wouldn't they still be biased toward the part of the world they come from?


Presumably a panel of said international tribunal would have equal members of participating countries to avoid such favoritism in the first place.


The point of that was to stop Malaysia and Singapore from pirating movies and software.

I think there's something to be said about the correct distrust of MPAA. But at the same time, Malaysia and Singapore were clear pirate hubs that were harmful to any IP based economy.


> ... Singapore were clear pirate hubs that were harmful to any IP based economy.

That's an absurd and factually incorrect statement.


You're aware of the history of singapore, right?

Joke alert - it used to be a piracy hub.


arr. strait over my head.


Well, from my point of view, copyright maximalism is much bigger theft than file sharing in Malaysia.


It's not quite accurate to say the US "blew it up." The other countries just signed TPP-11 without the US, and the agreement went into effect on December 30, 2018


William Nordhaus, winner of the 2018 Nobel prize in economics, advocated for this, calling such agreements "Climate Clubs"

https://www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/aer.15000001


Here is some good news I found today:

The Montreal protocol (to ban ozone-layer-destroying gas emissions) works quite well so far and also has implications for climate change:

> As reported in the 2014 Assessment, chemistry–climate models suggest that continued accumulation of ODSs in the atmosphere in the absence of the Montreal Protocol would have led to a collapse of the global ozone layer by the mid-21st century, with devastating environ-mental implications (Newman et al., 2009; Garcia et al., 2012).

> The last Assessment also reported on the additional (mostly unanticipated) benefits of ODS regulations for mitigation of global climate change.

> Specifically, it was reported that by later this century, unregulated ODS increases could have led to global surface temperature increases comparable to tem-perature increases caused by other greenhouse gases (Velders et al., 2007) and could have almost doubled changes in the hydrological cycle (precipitation minus evaporation) over the next few decades.

The newest addition, the Kigali Amendment, phases out some more gases. This also has implications:

> As discussed in Chapter 2, these new studies indicate that the an-ticipated phasedown of HFCs is expected to avoid up to 0.4 K of global mean surface warming by 2100.

(see some plots on page 34)

http://ozone.unep.org/sites/default/files/Assessment_Panel/S...


I _think_ a key difference between the montreal protocol and the paris agreement is that the first meant _banning products_, so a if country X keeps producing something with CFCs and tries to sell it to country Y then the latter can just forbid importing.

So individual actors have an economical incentive to be compliant.

This does not work for CO2 emissions, we're left to the individual countries' "goodwill".


Finally a piece of good news in global politics


The best part is that tree trade is not contradictory with setting standards!

> For the first time, the trade agreement includes countries' Paris climate deal commitments.

> The text also addresses sustainable development and sets standards for labor, safety, environmental and consumer protection.


For sure. These days it seems like Canada and mainland Europe are the last bastions of civilization.


This sounds like a bit of a hyperbole no?


[flagged]


Can you please not take HN threads on flamewar tangents? This is a major one. The problem is that the few hottest/angriest topics have most of the mass and eventually suck everything else into their field.


but bad news for global green politics. Most ecologists would rather limit international trade.

(Just floating another point of view out there)


> For the first time, the trade agreement includes countries' Paris climate deal commitments.

> The text also addresses sustainable development and sets standards for labor, safety, environmental and consumer protection.


"The service market will be opened, including financial services"

This is going to make the UK mad. But apart from that, wasn't there the position that services cannot be part of a trade deal?


There's the EU position that full and equal access to the services market is dependent on also allowing free movement of people, and the fairly standard EU position that foreign companies' access to its services market must depend on them following standards harmonised with EU law.

The former is a sticking point for the UK achieving the same level of services access before, the latter an impediment to a UK government ratifying many other plausible trade agreements that would oblige the UK to mirror various EU corporate regulations, restrictions on state aid for some of its larger companies etc without being accused of "betraying Brexit" and "taking orders from Brussels".

Also beyond the formally stated positions, the EU has to consider whether not opening up certain areas of its services sector to UK competition might be beneficial or harmful to its Member States, and it might take the view that not allowing London to retain dominance in various financial services and insurance markets would be a very good thing for some European financial centres.


There isn't really much services market in the EU, the "common market" only ever really worked properly for goods. This is one reason the UK doesn't like it much - it's got a more services oriented economy than the other countries, but the EU doesn't care much to open up e.g. German service industries to British competition.

Meanwhile the EU only requires free movement of people for trade deals for geographically European countries, because those are the ones it feels it should be able to fully absorb, whereas it has no interest in trying to take over Canada or Japan. So whilst the UK is told to pay billions, accept unlimited immigration and obey the ECJ if it wants a trade deal of any sort whatsoever, Japan is required to do none of those things.

Ultimately this makes the EU a much worse deal if you happen to live near it than further away.

Also the Commission has made clear that the financial services market in the EU will be entirely closed to the EU no matter what happens, even if some deal is reached. Not tariffs, outright bans. There's no "sticking point" about it - the EU sees loss of access to financial markets as the penalty for any attempt to leave at all, or even just not join. See how Switzerland is also being banned from EU financial markets it previously had access to because of unrelated trade disputes.


The UK has substantial access to the European markets it's particularly strong in though, like marine insurance and financial services (including a large amount of Euro-denominated services business), European markets which we have voluntarily traded London dominance of for inability to participate in without relying on European business units. The fact that despite a general presumption in favour of a right to to bid on them, UK companies are not well placed to actually win contracts to (e.g) provide advice on German law in German is largely irrelevant to that and not in any sense an economic rationale for Brexit. We're not going to get more comprehensive services agreements with more promising trade partners as a result.

Obviously Canada and Japan have no freedom of movement requirements in their trade deals, but they also haven't asked for any access to many of the markets the UK has up until now benefited from. And as you say, the EU has some inclination to non-recognition of British services as a simple penalty, but it also has perfectly good reasons to keep Britain out of many of them in the interests of giving advantages to Member States where the business can be moved out of London without significant disruption, and because the UK's negotiating position starts from the ludicrous position that any standards harmonised with the EU should be possible for the UK to unilaterally rescind at short notice because sovereignty innit.

The UK has not been told that to "accept unlimited immigration...if it wants a trade deal of any sort whatsoever" - quite the opposite - and it is sad that in an otherwise pretty nuanced post you have resorted to such blatant misrepresentations.

(It's pretty emblematic of Brexit that the post hoc rationale for leaving the EU has become so focused on how relatively unattractive the options offered afterwards are...)


> it's got a more services oriented economy than the other countries,

wrong, France for example has a similar share of services in its GDP.

> accept unlimited immigration

wrong. The EU does not require unlimited immigration from its members.

> financial services market in the EU will be entirely closed to the EU

wrong, they won't. A UK bank for example can set up a presence in the EU and offer its services there. All major UK banks already have that.


What to open is decided in a case-by-case basis. When opening one sector is more favorable for one of the two parties, the other one is going to ask something in return...


This was news a few months, wonder why it's just now hitting HN.

FYI, many import tariffs on products like cheese and meats are not immediately effectively - they gradually phase out the tariffs over a period of something like 8-10 years, so cheese will continue to be expensive for quite a while.


It just entered into force today, that's why it's in the news.

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-19-785_en.htm


The contracts takes effect from today on. Months ago they just signed it, but it wasn't executed till now. Needs some time to prepare for such things.


Will consumers benefit from it? Can Japanese order from amazon.de without customs charges and vice versa?


Currently I can order cheap products (less than 20€) from China without customs fees or VAT. The shipping cost is around 1€. It means that it is cheaper to buy from China than from my local store. Unfortunately, that is about to change soon (customs fees for all products from China).

Having something like that between EU and Japan would definitely boost the trade.

Edit: I just checked and the same no customs fees rule applies already to Japan. I wonder if it is going to change at the same time as Chinese products get the customs fees.


The shipping only costs 1€ because China is abusing the international post system - the shipment cost is subsidized from your own taxes.

https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/2169144/ch...


Yeah. What I found particularly galling is that often it's cheaper to send something from Shenzhen to Europe (from aliexpress, say) than the 50 km over to Hong Kong. Arghh.


my god this annoys me, here in Sweden you pay $10 just for post office mishandling your package, with VAT and duty on top of the fee. and sooo many people pay it all and then never receive their package because the post office send it back the sender for no clear reason whatsoever


which country do you reside in?


Finland - here's the calculator for customs duties and VAT: https://tulli.fi/en/customs-duty-calculator


Consumers will definitely profit from it. Even if you buy European products from a local Japanese retailer, you are currently paying tariffs. 97% of those will now disappear.

If ordering from Amazon.de becomes more convenient is hard to say. I would assume shipping would still be expensive. There are also certain feature of a “common market” that a FTA does not provide, such as the right for consumers to sue companies in their local court, and free returns, etc.


The treaty abolishes tariffs. You would still have to pay VAT to customs.


amazon.com is US based. This free trade zone is between the EU and Japan.


I have not mentioned .com. There are german and japanese amazon branches


Amazon.de is a different company than amazon.com (by law at least)


What would the Japanese need from the EU besides Airbus planes. Looks like a one-way street to me.


Not sure if you read the original article, but the exchange between Europe and Japan seems fairly balanced.

> EU businesses export €58 billion in goods and €28 billion in services to Japan every year. (snip) Japan exports €69 billion in goods and €18 billion in services to the EU annually.


Food. The EU is an agricultural juggernaut, and Japan has very dense megacities with mountain ranges in between. Not the best situation for self-sufficiency.

Fortunately, they make highly sought-after electronic products and cars, which can be exchanged for food.


Until now the Japanese agricultural lobby has also been very strong and kept prices of stuff like rice and dairy products (butter, cheese etc) artificially high. This appears to break that.


Coal, petroleum, machinery, wine, cheese, bottled water.


Does Britain get kicked out of this deal after Brexit? Probably.


Yes.


No. They are kicking themselves out.


Are there any downsides to this that were perhaps left out of the article?


The downside of free trade agreements is well studied: while overall it's a net positive for the economies involved, there are some individual losers.


I think the parent means things like, draconian copyright rules, ISDS (investor-state dispute settlement), subversion of customer protection rules (e.g. selling GMO meat in EU), etc.

In addition, Japan and EU are obviously similarly (very highly) developed countries, so "free trade" between them is very close to "fair trade" as well, as opposed to e.g. free trade between EU and China would be (EU companies would skirt EU labour and environmental laws by producing stuff in China and freely importing into the EU).


Banning GMO meat doesn't protect consumers. It's just unscientific pandering to special interest groups.


You probably meant to write allowing GMOs is pandering to special interest groups?

https://qz.com/1524049/monsanto-is-at-the-center-of-a-plagia...


It's benefiting the special interest of GMO companies at the expense of the special interests of stupid people who are irrationally scared of them.


GMOs, together with massive animal agriculture are a black swan in the making. Let's modify the organisms, create billions of them, have them as a testing ground for bacteria and viruses, let the bacteria and viruses evolve to eventually kill the resistant individuals, then after it happens we need 10 more years until more than a thousand billion individuals produce a human targeting strain.

There is absolutely no scientific way anyone can measure the risk without the effect of time.

Not to mention that my story is only one outcome out of many downsides and it's already happening with antibiotics abuse in animal ag.

The avian flu is a good past example. The disease sparked from a population of animals we raise the most. Hundreds of billions of chickens were Petri dishes for the ultimate strain of mammal killers. Intuitively these kinds of situations are inevitable.


How is raising GMO animals more risky? Or do you think the EU should mandate farming boars instead of pigs?


If you genetically modify animals to have a stronger immune system there's going to be a natural pressure for stronger bacteria.

Just like giving animals antibiotics to spur their growth is riskier than not.


Animals have been genetically modifying themselves to have stronger immune systems for millions of years. Are you proposing to halt evolution through natural selection?


I am not. I am saying that evolution is time tested on a huge scale, GMO can never be.

By using GMOs one is definitely going to get black swans.


I don't understand how people don't get that... Like, half of the concern about global warming/climate change isn't warming per se - it might be a good thing if we'd be able to grow food in Siberia - but change - the unforeseen, unpredictable consequences of throwing a complex chaotic system out of a balance it's maintained for millions of years. Now exactly the same applies to GMOs, but all of a sudden the "scientific community" reaches the opposite consensus.


Other techniques can produce genetic changes just as large as direct genetic modification. For example, irradiation, interspecies hybridization, and selective breeding. So your "black swan" argument is invalid.


Which of those techniques can implant virus/bacterial gene into plant DNA?

It’s like saying “nuclear bomb could happen randomly in the universe” like yeah, it could (and there are actually examples of natural reactors), but what are the odds, versus human engineering?!


Banning hormone-treated beef and chlorine washed chicken would protect customers from shitty food though.


Those issues are separate from GMOs.


Biggest loser will be the domestic Japanese Camembert industry[1], as according to a Reddit poster[2] Japan only has 4 cheeses (Sandwich cheese, cheese that melts (とろけるチーズ), parmesan cheese (for pasta) and camembert).

But that could turn around as consumers discover new cheeses and then incorporate cheese into their diet more.

One thing I recall about Japan, specifically Tokyo, was how many French patisseries there were, so it would seem to me there's a huge untapped market for French Cheese and Wine to accompany.

[1] https://whatjapanthinks.com/2017/10/05/camembert-is-japans-f...

[2] https://www.reddit.com/r/japan/comments/1xwk51/is_it_true_th...


I used to get my supplies from Fermier [1]. Excellent but quite expensive.

[1] https://www.fermier.co.jp/c/shop_atago.php


A number of industries have their tariffs suppression spread over X years to give people the opportunity to get used to the competition (I know it's 7 years for automotive and 10 years for shoes).


Well, if you are not a member state of the EU or Japan it will be harder to sell your products, if EU or Japan can import them cheaper from their partners. But next to that: Probably not.


Why does it only provide for free movement of capital and goods but not of people?


Japan has an anti-immigration policy as far as I know. Seems like it's actually slowly getting better because of the increasing elderly population

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immigration_to_Japan


Because the free movement of capital and goods is much more limited than that of EU or EEA members.


because it's just a 'free trade agreement' and Japan is not asking for membership in the EU (or EEA)


Labour is tradeable. You should be able to sell your labour with the same freedom others have to sell their goods.


you can trade your labor.

Freedom of movement for people in the EU is something different.

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/factsheets/en/sheet/147/free-m...

https://www.bmi.bund.de/EN/topics/migration/law-on-foreigner...

Since Japan is not joining the EU and also not planning to do so, 'Freedom of movement' in the EU is not part of this (trade) agreement.


Is this meaningful for the average customer? I'd like to import two Switch games to the EU from Japan soon (eBay or PlayAsia). Will the agreement mean that there are no potential customs for me anymore?


I believe they have to be made in Japan, unless this is an actual customs union which is unlikely. Essentially, if a product is imported from a country A into country B, which has an FTA with country C, it cannot be imported (under the agreement) into country C unless country C has an FTA with country A or countries B and C have some sort of customs union.

https://www.bbc.com/news/business-36083664


This is so awesome news. I see that in the local news this morning, that in my home country (Denmark), this free trade agreement is creating lots of news jobs with companies already announcing hundreds of new job. And this is just one day after the announcement. More of this to come in the next days and weeks.


Would you mind elaborating?


And the UK will miss out.


Is this a good thing in the end? Ecologically, hurting small economies (already happen in the eurozone)…


Yeah, I hear the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Denmark, and Estonia are hurting terribly.


But then there are also plenty of small and small-ish economies that haven't done so well from EU (particularly Euro) membership, aren't there?


Nope. Ireland has done excellent-it was the poorest country in Europe when they joined in the 1970s, today it’s among the top. Eastern and south-eastern countries had lines for bread when the USSR dissolved. Ten years later, they joined the EU. Today, life in Poland or Hungary is close to catching up with Western Europe.

Greece had about the same GDP per capita as Turkey when they joined. Today, it’s closer to 3x Turkey.


Check.

"Ireland [...] was the poorest country in Europe"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_past_and_...

Check 1972 figures.

Spain and Greece were poorer. The unlisted Soviet client states were likely even much poorer.

"Poland or Hungary is close to catching up with Western Europe."

Poland and Hungary have 1/3 the per capita GDP as Britain. ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_%28no... )

"Greece had about the same GDP per capita as Turkey when they joined. Today, it’s closer to 3x Turkey."

( see previous link). 2017: Greek per capita gdp =~ $18.6K, Turkey =~ $11.5K.

Also (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_past_and_... ). Greece joined in 1981: Greece gdp per capita ~= $5.3K, turkey gdp =~$2.2K.


"Poland and Hungary have 1/3 the per capita GDP as Britain." More accurate comaparision would involve PPP numbers. $43k UK vs $29k Poland and $28k Hungary. So after all they ARE catching... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(PPP)...


Poland and Hungary are catching up with western countries. But they are starting with the poorest ones, like Portugal.


Being from Poland - absolutely true, I'm constantly amazed by how much the country accomplished, and how much the EU participation gave us. (Although Poland is not a small country the parent mentioned)


As you allude to, the euro is the thing that's so bad for periphery economies.

Everything else that comes with EU membership is clearly net positives, though some individual groups may turn out to be losers from it.


"The deal protects 'Geographical Indications' such as Cheddar, Kobe beef and Scotch whiskey"

Ironic


UK comes out Japan comes in


Not really. With a free trade agreement Japan is not a member of the EU. Far from it.

The UK after Brexit eventually will also get a 'free trade agreement' of some sorts with the EU.



Then half of the NW and NE try to secede to join Scotland. :)


I'm glad the UK is a member of the EU so we can benefit from this.


So then it IS apparently possible to have a free trade zone without freedom of movement.


See here for a brief description and comparison of:

- the EU single market

- an EU customs union

- a free trade area

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-36083664


Of course it is. The EU isn’t that, though.

The withdrawal agreement negotiated by May does fulfill those criteria, but Brexiters still don’t like it — fancy that.


let's be accurate here: the reason the brexiteers (i.e. the ERG) don't like the withdrawal agreement is that it gives the EU effective control of the UK economy without any mechanism for the UK to leave that arrangement without the EU's permission

which is the sort of term a victor of war forces on a defeated party

the ERG agreed earlier this week that if this part of the agreement is dropped they will vote for it, otherwise it will never be accepted


If you're going to open a post with "let's be accurate here" then it helps to post something which is remotely close to the truth.

The withdrawal agreement ensures that the UK will leave the EU entirely within a fixed period with the exception of a tiny, economically isolated region which actually voted to remain, which would continue to be subject to some Single Market rules (to its immense economic benefit) under a temporary provision unless and until it was replaced by a subsequent agreement or an arbitration committee was persuaded that the UK had devised a customs regime which didn't conflict with the UK's separate legal obligations to uphold the GFA and WTO trading rules.

Which is the sort of term that people claiming to want to launch a new era of trade agreements with the whole world and claiming that the Irish border could be adequately solved with technology wouldn't be particularly bothered by if they believed what they were saying. (Irish Unionists have more obvious reasons to oppose the deal due to the symbolic importance of an Irish Sea border and their own interpretations of the GFA)


> Irish Unionists have more obvious reasons to oppose the deal due to the symbolic importance of an Irish Sea border and their own interpretations of the GFA

I'm not super caught up on the deal and the various takes. What is this referring to and what interpretation of the Good Friday Agreement is unfavorable to the deal?


The thrust of the GFA is that changes to the constitutional status of NI and other devolved decisions should be agreed between representatives of the respective unionist and republican communities (or in the case of NI choosing to leave the UK, by referendum). A customs border down the Irish Sea might not pose as many practical problems as a land border but is a pretty dramatic change in the constitutional status of Northern Ireland which unionists who consider NI to be an integral part of the UK naturally oppose. (the DUP don't talk up the GFA angle, not least because they actually originally opposed the GFA and aren't exactly upholding the spirit of it themselves, but there's a legitimate argument that the spirit of the agreement was also intended to protect unionists from having major constitutional changes imposed upon them without their consent or a public vote)


There are people who identify as Irish and hold Irish passports who live in Northern Ireland and would be cut off from the Republic without the backstop. It's precisely the making of national identity a non-distinguishing factor that underlies the peace process.

The backstop is publicly popular in Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland voted by a substantial majority to Remain. The DUP is the only party that voted against the peace agreement.

It was the UK who wanted the backstop to be extended to Great Britain, not the EU.


It is worth pointing out that Northern Ireland does more trade with England than it does with all other trading partners combined - including the rest of Ireland. If you're going to put a custom border somewhere, where does it make sense to put it?


It makes no sense to put it anywhere.

Because you can't put a new border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

Just because it does more trade with England doesn't mean anything, that's because England is bigger. What's more important is that you can't put a border or wall or customs check really between NI and Ireland.


And this is the impasse.

There are three possible outcomes here. Reverse course to remain, May's deal, or a hard Brexit. Each has about 1/3 support, and so none of them can win a vote. However the default if there is no further legislation is a hard Brexit.

Now to this issue.

Few want a border between the two halves of Ireland. Few want a border between Ireland and Great Britain. The price that the EU wants for no border is that the UK has to continue to comply with all EU regulation, and the UK gets no say in said regulation. Few in the UK want that.

The inevitable result is that, whatever happens, most people won't want that outcome. But that won't matter because they can't agree on whatever other outcome they would have wanted instead.

And this is how train-wrecks happen in slow motion.


Agreed with most you say although I'd say no one really wants May's deal. The only real options left are remain or no deal and so should be put to the people. Question to the people: Is this really what you want?


I agree that no one really wants May's deal. It is more accurate to say that about 1/3 think that May's deal is the least bad option at this point.


For anyone who doesn't get the reference, worth considering the fairly recent history of Northern Ireland:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Troubles


I am so confused why a nuclear power is so worried about a line in a contract. Breaching a contract always happens and as long as something good comes out of it no one cares. AND everyone wants to have a good outcome here. No one wants an explosive Northern Ireland again.


The UK has the theoretical capacity to renege on the Withdrawal Agreement after signing it and declare that Northern Ireland is leaving the Single Market permanently regardless of whether the EU and Ireland still have reasonable objections to the alternative border arrangements.

But intentionally breaching an international agreement probably isn't the best way of starting a brave new era of signing new international trade agreements, even before the likely resulting strife in NI is considered.


Nuclear weapons won't do much about car bombs in London or help with EU negotiations unless the UK wants to re-enact a more rainy Mad Max after leaving.


Are you suggesting that the UK makes the EU trade with it by threatening to nuke it if it doesn't?

Because that's horrifying, and I can't see how else to read your comment.


No not at all. They negotiate like two normal entities. But I think it is funny to have a nuclear power being scared about a line in a contract it signs. It can just declare: I ignore that line and then wait what the other side will do. The worst case is that the EU is also breaking the contract - maybe completely - which is then ... the same as no-deal.


So, you're suggesting that if the EU responded with trade sanctions that we'd ... what, threaten them with nukes?

You don't think there might be a point in the future where we want to trade with any of the other 26 countries of the EU ever again?

You want to declare war on them to support our project of making UK an economic backwater ... I thought I'd heard it all ... wow.

What's your position on importing food? Given we don't produce enough to feed us and if we revert land to food use we'll have to sacrifice higher profit uses (e.g. we export seed potatoes, but import potatoes, because that's financial beneficial). Do you think other countries have excess to sell us just sitting around in warehouses?


What I wanted to express, obviously very bad, that it is just a contract among countries. Powerful countries which cannot be pressured it anything. There will not be nuclear war, food shortages or polish plumpers invasion.


Yes, I'm aware that dishonourable people in powerful positions will ignore their commitments and contractual agreements.

That works, mostly, when you're a large org doing things like not paying workers (but, unions!) or you're a government disenfranchising citizens (but elections, coups), etc..

However, try it with someone who has power over you - like your police force, your bank, your boss ... now realise that the EU is the strongest organisation in the region. We, in the UK, really, really, need them for food security, for energy security, possibly for defense of things keep going the way they are with Russia.

Sure, they want us, but if we piss off the EU even more then we're going to have to dramatically change our lifestyle in order not to starve; and I don't know about you but I want the UK, and the EU, to thrive.


I don't really see what relevance nuclear weapons have on trade agreements. Trade is an iterated cooperation game. Nuclear weapons have no second turn.


If a hard border returns to Northern Ireland, as it might, all it could take is one border incident to kick things off again.

This contract matters, as does keeping free movement on the island. For everyone in Ireland, north and south, and many in Britain too.


I'm just old enough to remember the IRA blowing thing up in the late 80's and nineties on the mainland.

I don't think any sane person wants to go back to mortar attacks on Westminster.

It seems strange how we dealt with the ever present threat of the IRA differently to the threat of Islamist terrorism.

Yet in terms of casualties the IRA killed more people more regularly.


Me too, I was working in Docklands when there was the bombing [1]. First time I ever saw an armed policeman in a mainland UK street. Forget pistol, they were wielding MP5s.

> threat of the IRA differently to the threat of Islamist terrorism

Fully agree. The overreaction has been extreme. I don't understand why the political reaction hasn't been more like it was.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1996_Docklands_bombing


I have a theory that during the cold warn western democracies behaved better towards their own people because they had a 'bad guy's to compare against.

A sort of 'would they do this in East Germany? Then maybe we shouldnt' yardstick.

Also I think a lot of the over reaction to terrorism is just a power/land grab by the intelligence services, I mean they do valuable work but we don't really know how much and what the net benefit of any is.

The leaks have been egregious fairly consistently though.

Snowden has my respect for confirming what a lot of us techies suspected but couldn't prove.


> 'would they do this in East Germany? Then maybe we shouldnt' yardstick.

I think there might be some mileage in your theory. :)

The UK has an odd relationship with intelligence thanks to the Bletchley Park story being part of our WW2 myths. I've always thought it goes some way to explaining our politicians being so keen on the UK being so excessive and early with things like CCTV everywhere.

Which brings us to now when even with all that tech, terrorists seem able to do what terrorists do just as well. At which point it's hard not to become cynical.


Because then no country trusts or will do deals with you again. Let's see Britain is struggling to get trading partners, so let's show ourselves unworthy to be trading partners. That doesn't help.


Doubtful. I'm sure plenty of countries would hold their nose and rub their hands together at the prospect of better access to the UK's market.


I'm really not sure what your point is. Clarification?


It's clear to me - why is such a powerful country acting like such a cowardly custard?


It is like asking why a powerlifter is scared of cancer... you are not really talking about comparable things


Well, it's the UK's obligation to preserve the Good Friday Agreement. You can't blame the EU for that obligation.

I'm pretty sure that fifteen years ago, nobody would have thought that "let's keep the bombings" would be a coherent and respectable opinion.

Things have changed.


Well, it's the UK's obligation to preserve the Good Friday Agreement.

The legal technicalities of that are debatable, but let's assume for this discussion that there exists a clear legal obligation to do so.

Which specific obligation(s) under the GFA do you think would or would not be satisfied by which specific proposal(s) that have been made in relation to the NI/Ireland border?


The agreement contains a commitment by the British and Irish governments to develop "close cooperation between their countries as friendly neighbours and as partners in the European Union".

It's hard to see how we can do that as, er, not members of the European Union. I believe the Common Travel Area is also a key issue as it commits us to open travel through the border which on the face of it seems incompatible with leaving the customs union.

The problem is the Brexit camp won't actually say exactly what they want, or exactly what their solutions to these problems are. They don't want to be in the customs union, by and large because it would restrict our ability to do trade deals outside the EU, but they won't say how specifically they would manage cross-border travel and checks which changes incompatible with the customs union might require. Until we find out what those deals outside the EU actually are, we can't say specifically what impact they might or might not have on the transport of goods and people.

The Brexit camp want to cast this whole situation as the EU and Irish Republic forcing us to do this or that. They aren't. We freely and willingly went into all these commitments, many of which we were the driving force behind initiating and we're the ones threatening to tear them all up and force changes on them.

The brexit camp are full of red lines for what they don't want, but have yet to present any credible plan clearly specifying what they actually do want, what it's consequences would be and how to implement it.


The agreement contains a commitment by the British and Irish governments to develop "close cooperation between their countries as friendly neighbours and as partners in the European Union".

It's hard to see how we can do that as, er, not members of the European Union.

This is the standard NI-border-tail-wagging-dog argument that you can't have Brexit at all because of wording in the GFA, but it's fundamentally flawed in two different ways.

Firstly, your quote of the GFA is selective. Read the words just before the ones you mentioned, which fundamentally change the meaning.

Secondly, both the UK and Ireland are signatories to the EU treaties, including the TFEU that provides for withdrawal of a member state under Article 50. As a matter of international law, to the extent that any earlier treaty between those parties is contradicted by a later treaty to which they are also signatories, the later one takes precedence. (This is why I noted before that the legal technicalities are debatable.)

I agree with the spirit of the rest of your comment, in that advocates of Brexit need to get their story straight so there are concrete discussions to be had, so I won't comment further on those points here.


"I believe the Common Travel Area is also a key issue as it commits us to open travel through the border which on the face of it seems incompatible with leaving the customs union."

No, this happens elsewhere already. Compare Norway - it is in a common travel area with the EU (Schengen), but out of the EU customs union. They're different issues.


Norway's membership of the EEA is a prerequisite for its Schengen membership.


And the sort of trade deals brexiteers want to negotiate would be far beyond anything comparable to the few EEA exceptions on common tariffs, so it in no way an equitable comparison. For a start, EEA members contribute billions to the EU budget for the market access they get towards common institutions and programmes. The brexit camp want to end all payments to the EU, so a Norway style arrangement is, apparently, off the table.


The EEA includes Single Market membership (not 100% perhaps?) but not EU customs union membership.


We're not talking about law; we're talking about hearts and minds, identity, nationalism, the stuff that causes wars and keeps peace.


The same question applies either way:

Which specific obligation(s) under the GFA do you think would or would not be satisfied by which specific proposal(s) that have been made in relation to the NI/Ireland border?

A lot of rather non-specific claims seem to get made in debates around Brexit, of the form "someone must do something to avoid violating the GFA", but without any supporting argument about why. The Agreement is publicly available and not a long document, so anyone can read it. I think it would further useful and interesting debate if more people did, because it doesn't actually say what quite a lot of people seem to think it does.


The same question applies either way:

It doesn't. You keep referring to a legal document, as if it's the legal document that matters. The legal document enshrines rights, but it was written in the context of both Ireland and UK being EU members - there was no reason to explicitly add things that came with the EU, or with the Common Travel Area, into the document, since they were part of the situation already.

But in any case, to the specifics of the document.

Declaration Of Support, clause 3:

> We are committed to partnership, equality and mutual respect as the basis of relationships within Northern Ireland, between North and South, and between these islands.

How can there be equality if Irish nationalists in Northern Ireland face a border when they go south, but Unionist British nationalists don't face a border when they go east?

In the Agreement between Government of UK and Government of Ireland, Article 1, the two governments:

> acknowledge that while a substantial section of the people in Northern Ireland share the legitimate wish of a majority of the people of the island of Ireland for a united Ireland, the present wish of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland, freely exercised and legitimate, is to maintain the Union and accordingly, that Northern Ireland’s status as part of the United Kingdom reflects and relies upon that wish; and that it would be wrong to make any change in the status of Northern Ireland save with the consent of a majority of its people

Do you think putting a hard border between NI and the Republic constitutes a change in the status of Northern Ireland without a consent of the majority of its people, against the legitimate wishes of people in Northern Ireland and a majority on the island?

Don't forget that the only people representing Northern Ireland in this debacle of UK government dysfunction is the one NI party that voted against the GFA.


You keep referring to a legal document, as if it's the legal document that matters.

If we're making arguments about what the UK government can or can't do, it is the legal documents that matter. The rest is a matter of political judgement, obviously with significant implications, but it's not a binding constraint.

How can there be equality if Irish nationalists in Northern Ireland face a border when they go south, but Unionist British nationalists don't face a border when they go east?

I think you're stretching the intent of that clause. Clearly there isn't equality with NI being part of the UK but not part of Ireland either, and that's a much more fundamental difference in governance.

Do you think putting a hard border between NI and the Republic constitutes a change in the status of Northern Ireland without a consent of the majority of its people, against the legitimate wishes of people in Northern Ireland and a majority on the island?

Again, I think you're distorting the meaning with the selective quoting here. The change of status refers to the previous wording, which is about the right of the people of NI to determine whether to remain part of the UK or to become part of a united Ireland notwithstanding any overall majority on the island of Ireland for reunification.


> Do you think putting a hard border between NI and the Republic constitutes a change in the status of Northern Ireland without a consent of the majority of its people, against the legitimate wishes of people in Northern Ireland and a majority on the island?

Indeed - if the Irish or the EU choose to erect a hard border it would indeed go against those wishes, and the UK should not allow them to do it.


I'm not a lawyer, so not 100% but

Article 1 part iii:

"and that it would be wrong to make any change in the status of Northern Ireland save with the consent of a majority of its people;"

A majority of NI didn't vote for Brexit, and a hard border would change the status of NI?


This is a selective quote and commonly misunderstood. Taken in context, the status in question is whether NI remains a part of the UK or becomes a part of a united Ireland.

The point of that provision was that across the entire island of Ireland there was a majority for a reunited Ireland, but within NI specifically there was not, so this was an explicit agreement that reuniting North and South would not happen without the consent of the people of Northern Ireland alone.


You asked for a part of the agreement. I ventured a somewhat uninformed opinion. If you know more than me, then isn't it incumbent on you to venture an opinion on why we're in the situation of trying to avoid a hard border?


If you know more than me, then isn't it incumbent on you to venture an opinion on why we're in the situation of trying to avoid a hard border?

If you're asking for my personal, subjective opinion, then I think it's a combination of two factors.

Firstly, there are the local issues. Taken in isolation, avoiding changes that would unnecessarily restrict crossings at the NI/Ireland border is obviously a good thing, particularly for the people and businesses near that border. Meanwhile, closing the border has little upside for anyone at this level. That means maintaining the open border is a solid vote-winner, like having more funding for the NHS or more teachers in schools.

Any resulting costs will be elsewhere, in this case at a national/international level where potentially the open border could conflict with other possibly desirable outcomes. But of course there are complicated legal issues involved because of the history, and on top of that there is an implied threat of violence that can be invoked. It is very easy to paint a picture where changing the Irish border causes Very Bad Things to happen, and thus not changing the Irish border becomes an attractive proxy for blocking those other outcomes if in your view they are not so desirable but it's harder to make a direct case against them.

In short, there are important local considerations, but at national/international level it's also a convenient vessel for blocking other changes that some parties don't want.

It's probably a rather cynical point of view, but the proxy debate going on here does remind me of the people in the UK who suddenly became constitutional scholars and fierce advocates of this concept they'd never heard of a week earlier called parliamentary sovereignty, right around the time that a referendum widely advertised as giving the people a final say returned a result they didn't support but it turned out that constitutionally the referendum couldn't be binding after all and the current balance of opinion in Parliament might go the other way. It's a very large scale version of getting bogged down in legal technicalities, unfortunately at the expense of more reasoned debate on the underlying issues of substance.


So in your view who are the principle agents pushing for the backstop?

The DUP are pro brexit, but I suppose would like the best of both worlds if they could, but weren't in favour of the proposed backstop.

Teresa May, appears to me to be the principle agent, but while a remainer, seems to be more in favour of keeping her party together, than doing what's best for the country. So I cant really see her going for the backstop, and continuing to defend it without good reason.


So in your view who are the principle agents pushing for the backstop?

As of today? The EU and particularly Ireland, though I think it's a fundamentally flawed strategy that probably will not result in the outcome they are hoping for.

The practical problem for the negotiators is that it was an idea that originated from the UK, so it's very hard for the UK to now turn around and say they don't want it after all, even though it has become the true red line for getting the proposed WA past the UK Parliament and into effect.


[flagged]


I'm sorry, but I don't understand what point you're trying to make here.

The comment by blibble that you replied to was about a question of sovereignty, and both the summary of why the ERG don't like the proposed WA and the likely consequences of that seem reasonably accurate to me.

You seem to have introduced first the GFA and then the IRA into the discussion, but without explaining why they were relevant to the original point. Can you clarify what argument you are trying to make here?


Are you from the UK? The point is that between the UK and Ireland there is a CTA, common travel agreement. This means frictionless border crossing between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. This was straightforward when both were EU members as the border didn't need to be policed for transfer of goods. If the UK leaves the EU then goods from the UK cannot just be moved into the Republic of Ireland if there is no join customs agreement. So now you have to introduce a hard border with the RoI which goes against the Good Friday Agreement. If you don't understand the relevance of the GFA then you should read up further on or and the Troubles that preceded it.


The point is that between the UK and Ireland there is a CTA, common travel agreement.

Yes there is, and it has existed since long before the EU or its predecessors existed.

This means frictionless border crossing between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

No, it means that citizens from either side are allowed to cross the border by default. Production of some basic ID documents may still be required. Checks may still be (and sometimes are) carried out. And the whole thing is based on essentially a long-standing gentleman's agreement and explicitly does not create binding legal obligations.

In short, the CTA does not require a completely frictionless border and never has. Indeed, that could not possibly be its effect, because its provisions only cover British and Irish citizens.

If the UK leaves the EU then goods from the UK cannot just be moved into the Republic of Ireland if there is no join customs agreement.

It's a lot more complicated than that, but yes, the existing provisions for moving goods across the border are governed by EU mechanisms, including the Customs Union and Single Market.

So now you have to introduce a hard border with the RoI which goes against the Good Friday Agreement.

And at this point I ask you much the same question that I have asked others in this discussion:

What specifically constitutes the "hard border" that is required, and in what specific way(s) do any associated processes or infrastructure contradict the GFA?

If you don't understand the relevance of the GFA then you should read up further on or and the Troubles that preceded it.

Please don't be patronising. It is both rude and unconstructive. The GFA is widely cited by advocates on one side of the Brexit debate as some form of barrier to some possible outcomes, yet it appears that many of those people haven't actually read it and think it says things that it doesn't. It is not unreasonable, when someone introduces it as a new factor in a discussion that was previously about matters of sovereignty, to seek clarification about why they think it is relevant and whether their arguments have any more substance than a lot of the other ones we see referring to the GFA.


The EU membership predates the GFA too. The GFA was able to be out in place in part thanks to the existence of both the CTA and the EU.

Do you think that if it worked the way you thought it did, there would be such a furore over the situation? I'm not saying UK MPs are the smartest bunch of people but if Brexit would leave the GFA untouched then surely they would have worked that out by now.

Perhaps you are wrong.


My honest opinion is that the NI/Ireland border is an important issue, and the GFA is an important agreement, but they are not the only important issue and the only important agreement. I think Brexit is a divisive issue, and as a matter of political convenience a certain part of the political world and the public have latched onto the Irish border issue to the exclusion of almost all other considerations, with the effect that the tail has been wagging the dog. And I think this has closed minds and has adversely affected the negotiations and will ultimately result in worse outcomes for all parties, perhaps most of all those living and working near the NI/Ireland border. I find all of this deeply regrettable.


It's a shit show that's sure.


The UK doesn't have to put anything up. If the EU/Ireland choose to, that's kind of their problem.


The UK doesn't have to put anything up.

While that is technically true, it is practically false. If the UK reverts to trading on WTO terms, at least initially, the Most Favoured Nation principle essentially says that we have to trade with all other nations on an equal basis unless we make a comprehensive trade deal with someone. So if we let down the barriers and remove all restrictions at the Irish border, we are basically required to let down the equivalent barriers trading with anyone else at any border. That is not a sustainable policy.

In practice, if we have a hard Brexit with no big deal agreed at the end of March, I would expect both the UK and the EU/EU27 to make unilateral arrangements to protect their own people and businesses in the immediate aftermath and mitigate the likely negative effects as much as possible until better arrangements can be made. This is likely to include both the UK and Ireland declining to build new border infrastructure and turning a blind eye to any border crossings that would technically become illegal. But the EU would put great pressure on Ireland to address that issue quickly since any Irish border is also an EU border, and both the UK and Ireland would be subject to complaints at WTO level about the favourable treatment, which would take a considerable time to resolve but would inevitably result in some form of enforcement action if the issue was not addressed (which it surely would be to avoid that outcome, but the UK and Ireland would have bought themselves significant extra time by bending/breaking the rules until that point).


Of course it doesn't, but then free movement of people cannot be stopped.


[flagged]


He mentioned a not-further-defined mechanism for the EU to keep unlimited control over the UK.

The actual claim was "it gives the EU effective control of the UK economy without any mechanism for the UK to leave that arrangement without the EU's permission", which is quite a different statement to what you just wrote.

In the context of the proposed Withdrawal Agreement, the mechanism in question is the proposed backstop, which as it stands requires an open border to be maintained and has no exit conditions that the UK could exercise without EU consent one way or another. The only ways to keep a fully open border established so far involve remaining within the SM and CU. Without quibbling over minutiae, the practical effect of that is pretty much what blibble wrote.


this is a constant talking point amongst politicians trying to push a narrative without having read the treaty

if you'd take the time to read the good friday agreement you'd realise there's nothing about customs controls or a border anywhere in it


Actually: no. Not even close.

1) The backstop is just that: a backstop. It applies only if and as long as the "frictionless" arrangements for the NI border, which everyone wants and everyone has very publicly said they want, doesn't happen. So as soon as that happens, no more backstop.

2) UKGov claimed that this frictionless trade technology/mechanism exists and can be made to work, but in the months (or years) couldn't actually come up with a single bit of evidence that this is actually so. So the EU said, hey, we believe you can come up with this, and we will do our best, but in the meantime we have to have some sort of guarantee in place for the off-chance that it doesn't work.

So now parts of UKGov and the press are screaming bloody murder that the backstop will keep the UK in shackles "forever". Huh? You told us that you have this way of making the border frictionless. If that's actually true, why is the backstop a problem? So were you lying to us?

3) The only requirement is for the frictionless arrangements/backstop to apply to Northern Ireland, in order not to endanger the Good Friday Agreement, which, incidentally, is a binding agreement voluntarily entered into by the UK (so effectively part of the UK constitution). Extending this to the whole of the UK was something UKGov demanded.


"UKGov claimed that this frictionless trade technology/mechanism exists and can be made to work, but in the months (or years) couldn't actually come up with a single bit of evidence that this is actually so."

The Norway-Sweden border would be one example. Just like Ireland-Northern Ireland, they are not in a customs union but allow free movement of people.


Norway is in the EEA.

Norway basically applies all EU laws without being able to vote on them.

Fine by me, if the UK wants that. Oh, and by the way, Norway declared it doesn't want the UK in the EEA: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/dec/07/norweg...


It's not

Freedom of movement of people between Ireland and the UK is covered by the CTA. That won't change come March 31st.

Freedom of goods, services, and capital however would. The Norway Sweden border does not allow freedom of movement of goods. That's a major problem in Ireland, as you can't inspect goods passing between the north and the rest like you can between Norway and Sweden.

So why bother with a border at all?

The WTO say you have to secure your border to be a member. Imagine the UK charging high tarrifs on imports of Japanese cars. That's fine, Japan charges tarrifs on UK microwaves (or whatever).

So the UK simply moves its goods over the border to Ireland and sells them using the EU tarrifs. Japan gets pissed, and the WTO interceeds.

A cheese factory in Newry buys milk from a farm in Castleblayney (who's cows roam both sides of the border) and a farm Middletown. It then sells its cheese to a pie factory in Dundalk and a wholesaler in Omagh. The former make cheese and onion pies (onions from Coleraine), and sells them to shops in Belfast and Dublin, the latter simply packages them up and ships them to supermarkets in Galway and Lisburn.

That's a nightmare when there's a customs border between the north and south, even if it's a magical invisible one.


Norway Sweden broder is not open for goods, same as Switzerland-EU border.

That type of border would be a disaster in Ireland.


You need to distinguish freedom of movement (people) and a customs agreement (goods).

Sweden and Norway are both Schengen members, so they have explicitly agreed on freedom of movement for people. That does not say anything about goods.

But I don't know why such an arrangement could not work with the UK (both the UK and Norway are members of the European Economic Area) – presumably because the UK wants to leave that as well, because they want to go it alone and not align their trade policies with the European partners?


In the interests of clarity, there are really (at least) four distinct issues with the border crossing.

The first is simply whether people have a right to physically cross the border. This is, broadly speaking, the Common Travel Area that was established on the island of Ireland long before the EU or any of its predecessors existed.

The next is Freedom of Movement, which is one of the "Four Freedoms" that underpin the EU Single Market. This is also about people, but rather than physical movement, it relates to what they can legally do. Notably, it grants someone from one side of the border rights to live and work on the other.

The third is customs. This is about moving goods across the border, whether tariffs are payable to do so, and the mechanisms for monitoring and enforcing any such tariffs. At present, with the UK and Ireland both in the EU and its Customs Union, there are no tariffs and so no checks or infrastructure are needed.

The fourth is regulatory compliance. This is also about moving goods across the border, but it's about the non-tariff barriers, such as whether products for sale meet environmental or safety standards, or whether live animals or food products meet health requirements. These matters are typically regulated at the level of the EU's Single Market, so again, with the UK and Ireland both in the SM there are no discrepancies in standards and any accreditations for testing on one side are recognised by the other, meaning no need for additional verification at the point of crossing the border.

Of course there are also other issues with cross-border trade; notably, the above doesn't cover anything to do with provision of services. But in terms of physical crossings, those are the main points, and they are quite distinct.


Good summary. The first two are irrelevant in the case of Ireland (I can't see anybody imposing restrictions on Irish people living in Northern Ireland, although I don't think the GFA specifically allows it)

It's the last two that are the problem - the customs is the immediate one (as regulations won't change on March 31st), the latter has potential to cause major problems in the future, unless the UK remains aligned with EU standards.


"Sweden and Norway are both Schengen members, so they have explicitly agreed on freedom of movement for people. That does not say anything about goods."

Exactly. And this is the same situation for Ireland & Northern Ireland, post-Brexit. The UK and Ireland have a Common Travel Area which guarantees the free movement of people, just like the Schengen agreement.

"they want to go it alone and not align their trade policies with the European partners?"

The UK wants to negotiate free trade with the EU, but to not be a member of the customs union. The advantage of this is that it allows the UK to make its own trade agreements with other third countries.

The main UK opposition party (Labour), however, does want the UK to remain a member of the customs union.


Compare Switzerland: while it's not in the EEA, there are extensive agreements between Switzerland and the EU which ensure regulatory alignment on the issues that matter. There's no way to have Schengen-like free movement without either EEA membership or the Swiss "EEA lite" arrangement. You can't have customs checks at the border (avoiding customs union with EU) and simultaneously maintain the CTA regime.

Edit: details here https://www.ft.com/content/2d30482c-da7e-11e7-a039-c64b1c09b...


Norway and Sweden have “customs checks at the border” while both being part of the Schengen Agreement.

I’m not suggesting this is a desirable or unproblematic solution for Northern Ireland, but to claim that it is “not possible” is false.

Any free trade agreement between the UK and EU would of course have “EEA-like” clauses to ensure regulatory alignment.


It cannot possibly be in the future, because that would give the UK control over our borders.

I know that you're trying to set up an argument where it's supposed to be the EU's fault if border posts appear, but that's misleading. The UK changes things, the UK is responsible.


Ireland and the UK are not members of the Schengen agreement. They have their own Common Travel Area.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Travel_Area


this is a extremely naive view of the situation

obviously there's no problem if you are of the belief that the EU would act fairly in the situation where a new workable friction-less trade technology/mechanism is created

the ERG do not share this belief: their view is that if the withdrawal agreement is signed then the EU has no incentive to ever permit the UK to leave the temporary arrangement, as it would lose control over the UK economy and trade policy without gaining anything in return

they believe it's all about incentives, and in this case: they're probably right


If May had won a decent majority in the election, I think she would have gotten the backstop through, possibly even NI-only.

The all-UK backstop is an EU concession to the UK. The UK fought and asked for it, and other parties - e.g. France - are not in favour of it. It is not a plot to control the UK.

For example, it only binds the UK mainland to follow harmonized laws in effect at the beginning of the backstop, and not to track dynamic changes to the regulatory landscape. Lack of dynamic tracking means UK has a built-in and potentially growing advantage over the rest of the EU, should it ever remain in effect for long.

In any case, it's strongly in the UK's interest to have more integration than the backstop - to actually track closer to EU regulation than the backstop enforces - because the EU will continue to be the UK's single most significant economic partner, and the closest regulatory superpower. The UK doesn't have enough weight to get global suppliers to make special products for its domestic market if the regulations are different.


The EU has no incentive for a pissed off UK hanging on the basis of a temporary compromise.

It’s only the ERG’s inflated sense of England’s greatness that makes it hard for them to comprehend that the EU actually has bigger goals than just attaching itself to the UK.

This misunderstanding has led Brexiters to be consistently wrong in their analyses and predictions throughout this process. Right from easiest deal in history, to having your cake and eating it too, to wondering why doesn’t the Republic of Ireland just subjugate itself to the UK and give up their independence.


The ERG wants an excuse, they have already started indicating other problems if the backstop gets resolved. They can never be satisfied which was why May called the last election.


Well, if the UK side believes that the EU cannot be trusted, then there shouldn't be a deal at all.

Because there are always small details cropping up later that need to be fixed "fairly".

Unfortunately that fits very well within the "go whistle" stance, and that's why I don't really support any Brexit deal and think the UK should just crash out, consequences be damned.


it's not "cannot be trusted", it's about creating an environment that incentivises both parties to work towards a mutually acceptable solution

it's obviously counter-productive to your interests in a negotiation to put your competitor into a position that gives them complete power over you that you can never exit without their permission


Maybe we (the EU countries) should have mercy with them, let's just set a time limit of 1000 years, then they can't claim forever and everyone should be happy, right?


Except the U.K. was an equal member of the EU and participated in the development of its rules


More than equal as far as I know.


Tough luck, the UK gave up its voice in the EU willingly. No one forced Brexit on you.


Actually it kind of is. The majority don't want it. People got tricked into voting for it (heck no one knew what they were voting for). A slim majority hold everyone hostage by saying will of the people, everyone who voted knew they were voting for no deal. Lot's of deception and big money on the leave side with possible Russian troll bots trolling away on facebook riling up English pride etc.

A major change like that should not have been decided by a slim majority. Normally changes in parliament that are big require some super majority. It was a dubious narrow win, and according to polls the old people who voted leave are dead and it's a clear majority to remain.

You got a small group of hardliners in the majority government holding them hostage. The government who lost most of their seats in the vote after the referendum (kind of showing that people didn't really want it) but only held on due to a sneaky pairing up with a small Irish party called the DUP.

No one wants the deal offered, no one (but a few hardliners) wants no deal. Most want to remain but it's being forced on us because "will of the people". It's madness.


Well Brexit kind of is being forced upon the people Scotland and Northern Ireland who voted to remain (and, as Arethuza correctly noted, it's now likely that a majority of the UK population overall are against it anyway).


That the narrow result of a single vote is seen as sufficient justification to wildly swing a government's policy in a new direction with huge effects over decades is... baffling to me. Watching it happen is like seeing something announced by someone pretending to be a US President in a Saturday Night Live sketch and then, the next day, everyone treating it like a real thing that had happened and the whole state's policy shifting to reflect those statements, and no-one acting like that's extremely weird and insane.


You’ve put my feeling into words far better than I could have


Perhaps worth reminding everyone that a lot of people in the UK (probably the majority by this point) are actually pro EU.


And more people in the US voted for Clinton than Trump, yet here we are.


nobody likes the withdrawal agreement.


Nobody ever said it wasn’t. See the famous Barnier Diagram from the very start of negotiations: https://goo.gl/images/AqyD7w

Note the Canadian flag on the far right (pun imtended). It was one of the options on offer.


No, it wasn't. The EU is not insisting that parts of Canada obey EU law automatically and are effectively different countries as a result, which is what it's currently demanding of the UK. Nor did the EU demand tends of billions of euros from Canada in return for nothing in particular.

The EU has actually never been willing to discuss trade deals with the UK, let alone "let's be like Canada". So far it's refused entirely to even start such discussions. Barnier says a lot of things, as do others involved in the EU, but those things aren't consistent.


You do realize that the free trade agreement with Canada covers way, way less than the EU does, even commercially, right? And that the UK wants way more from the EU than Canada wants.


The billions are not arbitrary, but to settle obligations arising from the UKs past membership, such as pensions for their EU personell.

You obviously know that and are pretending to be ignorant, considering it was all over the news at the times.


No, there are no such obligations at all. Every lawyer who has looked at this reached the same conclusion.

The treaties are very clear. Two years after invoking Article 50 all rights and obligations terminate.

Pensions are obligations of the EU itself, not the UK. The fact that the EU has failed to invest properly into a pension fund and is structuring its pensions as a ponzi scheme is not the problem of former members.


"The billions are not arbitrary, but to settle obligations arising from the UKs past membership, such as pensions for their EU personell."

No UK monkey was ever able to understand this. "Just walking away will make this obligations disappear". And "paying them is the fee that we get all the EU rights with no obligations".


Of course. As a matter of fact, UK was never part of the Schengen Area.


It still benefitted from freedom of movement (which is defined as the ability to live, work and study abroad, and lack of discrimination between EU citizens and locals).


[flagged]


You should maybe address your willful misunderstanding of “free trade zone” in your first post, and your misrepresentation of the ongoing negotiations before going right to further degrading the discussion with empty snark.

A Canada-style FTA has always been one of the options available to the UK. It is immortalized in Barnier’s famous diagram from the very beginning of the negotiations: https://goo.gl/images/AqyD7w


Yes, the UK benefitted greatly from the massive net positive contribtuions that immigration had on its economy.


I mean when you look at it purely from a "are we all demonstrably better off in the EU" perspective then sure the UK has benefitted from membership.

If however you look at it from the point of view of "I hate people who look or speak different" the it's a different and frankly more miserable situation.

I think the person you were replying to was of the latter persuasion.


The economy grows if there are more people in it. GDP is just all economic activity summed, so adding more people inherently grows GDP, which is what is usually meant by "the economy".

This obviously doesn't automatically mean everyone gets richer though, it just means more economic activity is now being counted under the UK vs other countries. This sort of immigration driven "growth" is sort of like a child "growing up" by getting fatter - yes it's definitely larger, but that doesn't mean healthier.

From the perspective of the average British person, merely having more people around doesn't inherently make things better even if GDP has gone up, and can practically make things worse if it happens too fast as there's a limit to how fast infrastructure can be built.

People who view the world exclusively via spreadsheets may struggle to understand this basic point, but everyone else can see it quite clearly.


Except no matter how much we spend on the NHS - it still can't cope. Schools are full, and the transport system struggles everyday (the tube every morning is a miserable experience).

These every-day issues are the things that people are most concerned with.


Money isn't everything.


Freedom of movement and Schengen Area are not the same thing.


Schengen Area is not the same as freedom of movement.


No-one ever claimed otherwise.

The EU is not a "free trade zone".


...but why would anyone ever want that?!

If people are able to move freely, then each country should be able to apply tariffs to extract benefits from the economic gradients. If people can move freely, then that's the ideal.

Institutions, governments, "nations" and companies that collapse because of the free movement of people deserve to collapse and should be left to due so. The should even be "helped" to collapse faster and harder, making sure they never rise again!


Edit typo 2nd para: "If people are NOT able to..."


Yes ofc it is possible. the freedom of movement is just a way to dump bluecollar workforce into richer economies so that wages don't go up. educated workforce most of the time has legal ways to get a visa and has freedom of movement regardless of europe "freedom of movement"


Belgium, France, West Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands were all fairly evenly developed when they formed the original EEC in 1957.


Is that really true? Are we still fairly evenly developed and having the same economy now?


Same, no. But in a reasonable reference frame, "evenly developed", probably. I think the point made is that obviously the whole "freedom of movement" concept didn't come as a trick to "dump bluecollar workforce into richer economies so that wages don't go up".

Even assuming this was the sole purpose of it today (an extremely ignorant opinion if you ask me, and one that I don't see being backed by OP with evidence) it still doesn't prove that that's what "freedom of movement" is for. At best it would show that that's what it became.

It's more or less like saying that cars are for polluting the environment. They may or may not pollute but certainly that's not their defining trait, rather just a side-effect.

Unfortunately much of the population commenting here was born in a "freedom of movement" environment as such they have very little personal experience with its benefits for anyone. They did however read an article in the Sun once.


Not sure if sarcastic or not. Nowadays everything is possible. :-)


Both the Japanese and UK official positions are that in the event of Brexit severing these new ties via the EU, they want to implement a bilateral deal as quickly as possible that covers the same benefits as the EPA with possibilities for going further. Obviously various parties involved would prefer a more orderly transition, though.

One somewhat ironic possible outcome if there is a hard Brexit is that the UK could subsequently form a relationship with the CPTPP group that is broadly similar in nature to the new Japan-EU agreement.


If that did occur, wouldn't that allow the UK and the EU to trade freely via Japan...?


Not necessarily, because there could (almost almost certainly would) be rules of origin involved. These trade deals reduce or eliminate trade barriers to a useful degree, but they aren't as all-encompassing as full membership of the EU.


This is also why countries like Japan and Canada are expressing they'll carry over deals with no changes, and British politicians are really disingenous to say that'd work fine. If the rule is say 60% has to be from the EU to be eligible, and it's 40% UK and 60% EU, then keeping that rule will make it ineligible in a UK bilateral deal. So things could become a lot more one sided with no changes to the actual deal.


Indeed. Even directly derived agreements surely won't be concluded overnight, because there will be numerical issues about quotes, rules of origin and the like that will need to be reinterpreted to still make sense. Related concerns arise about the UK operating independently under WTO rules but trying to "inherit" the previous EU tariff schedules.


Except the argument made by the Brexiteers is that the EU can't do trade deals and Britain would be able to do so much better and quicker outside.

Hmm...


Sorry, I'm not very interested in debating subjective views of what more than 17 million people might have wanted. Little of value ever seems to result from such discussions.

All I'm saying is that the original comment by tonyedgecomb seems a bit pessimistic, because whatever happens with Brexit, either the UK will retain the benefits of the new EU arrangement or the UK and Japan have declared a very public intention to form an analogous agreement as quickly as possible to retain the same benefits for both parties.


EU has to allow the UK to leave first before the UK and Japan can negotiate a free trade agreement.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/26/an-seeks-early...


The EU doesn't have to allow the UK to leave, the UK has to decide to leave, the EU has nothing to do with it.

The trouble is if the UK leaves, it loses all the benefits of being in the EU.


Benefits of free-trade? You mean like a devastated blue collar class? Keep British products manufactured in Britain.


Didn't Britain de-industrialize of its own volition, in the 60s/70s/80s? :)


I've honestly only seen/owned at best a handful of products made in the UK. (I look at the country of origin of almost everything I buy, and I generally prefer EU-made things over Chinese-made things). Things that come to mind:

- Lorlin switches, and there is (probably "used to be") a Möller plant in the UK.

- A hammer made by Thorex. Good concept, poor quality.

- A saw made by Thomas Flinn. Poor steel.

- Fountain pen ink.

- Well that was a short list. Perhaps some English books I have were printed in UK. Though probably not.


There's an industrial estate almost literally a stones throw from my window (here in the UK) that makes all kinds of things, especially Aero related.


Look again in a year ;)


I remember all the FUD pre-referendum about how their would be an immediate economic crash the day after a vote to leave the EU. Look how well that prediction turned out.


I met a plasterer that told me he'd had to change careers because Polish competition would work for so much less, so it's not as simple as that.


Not sure why you were downvoted. This is a common problem for people "working in the trade".

...and pretty much any low-paid job.

We used to have machines that washed our cars, that's now been replaced by the Polish as they can do it for cheaper (and better).


Manufacturing has mostly moved to China, not the EU.


A lot of manufacturing has moved to Eastern Europe, especially car manufacturing. Ironically, UK was a strong advocate of the EU enlargement...


Yeah like James Dyson the Brexit supporter is doing... oh wait, no he isn't.


They were being ironic as we wont be in the zone in a few weeks


lol, Thatcher is to blame for the gutting of British manufacturing.

If you want to know why we became a service economy with a heavy focus on banking and the City of London, the neoliberals in the Tory and Labour parties are responsible,


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