by John Brian Shannon | October 4, 2016
Britain, more than any other Atlantic Ocean nation, would benefit from an Atlantic Alliance free trade zone precisely because it is an island nation, and as such it depends on free trade and movement of goods in order to thrive to it’s full potential.
Since the Roman era Britain has enjoyed a historic presence in the Atlantic Ocean for good reason — island nations need regional trade to survive and international trade to thrive.
For Britain, there is no way forward without enhanced international trade. In principle, islands should always be the strongest proponents of international trade and international law for the very reason that they profoundly need the world to function that way.
Japan set a wonderful example for all island nations in the postwar era, but never moreso since the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973 when U.S. consumers suddenly decided to switch their gas-guzzler cars for lower priced and more fuel efficient Japanese cars.
Not only were millions of cars imported from Japan over the following years, but because the necessary technology to build cars was transferable to home and personal electronics, Japan received a double boost to it’s economy every day since the Arab Oil Embargo.
From one of the worst performing economies in the world in 1946 to it’s peak as the #2 global economy in the 1990’s — the Japanese economic miracle rode its high quality manufacturing base that catered to the needs of billions of consumers. By any standard it remains an impressive accomplishment.
And now it’s Britain’s turn to shine as the world’s next booming economy.
Although much has changed since the oil supply shocks of 1973, the world economy continues to grow, with developing nation consumers seeing comparatively massive increases in their disposable income, presenting a wonderful opportunity for a Britain suddenly freed from an overly bureaucratic political union.
Therefore, let us count the ways that an Atlantic Ocean trading alliance (a free trade zone, that I propose be restricted to nations that front the Atlantic Ocean) could benefit Britain and the other Atlantic nations.
In the North Atlantic, we have the United States, Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Norway, France, Spain and Portugal.
In Africa; Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, São Tomé and Príncipe, Gabon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, Namibia, and South Africa, front the Atlantic Ocean.
And in South America, we have the South Atlantic nations of Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil fronting directly onto the Atlantic Ocean — while French Guiana, Suriname, Guyana, Venezuela, Columbia, Panama, Honduras, Nicaragua, Belize, and Mexico and many island nations reside within the Caribbean Sea — which is of course, easily navigable to the open Atlantic Ocean.
All of these nations should receive a warm invitation to join such a trading block.
It is perhaps the best matchup of nations since the Bretton Woods Agreement of 1944. In the list of Atlantic and Caribbean nations, exist the most developed nations to the least developed, from the most overbuilt tourist locations to vastly underbuilt tourism markets, to the astonishing per capita petroleum and mineral resource base. Such opportunity abounds for those who pursue economic interdependence between Atlantic nations! From the most highly skilled labour to the cheapest labour, and among the highest cost real estate to the cheapest agricultural land in the world, everything that a developed or still developing nation needs can be easily found within this trading area.
The economic opportunities are uncountable, and they are sitting there untapped. At the moment, it’s a criminal waste of opportunity that must rank as a negative for every Atlantic nation whether developed or developing.
The obvious move here is for British Prime Minister Theresa May to voice strong support for an Atlantic free trade zone, contacting representatives of each country to find out what Britain offers, that can mesh with the needs of each Atlantic Alliance trading partner. And vice-versa.
Once some activity generates and some new trade begins to take shape, it would be wise to meet regularly to discuss standardization of regulations, whether shipping or other modes of transportation, financial, tourism, and other ways to work together. Even the baby-steps of working together to protect maritime shipping from at-sea piracy, or to form mutual aid groups designed to streamline hurricane or other natural disaster relief would demonstrate ways that Atlantic nations can work together for mutual benefit.
If the NAFTA model is used as the trading template, some of it’s terms could be adjusted to better suit the preferences of all Atlantic Alliance members, or it could be seen as the eventual goal for all members to reach at some point. At the very least it could be used as a reference point, a place to begin discussions.
By leading such an effort Britain would be well-placed — not to own the Alliance — but to offer it’s expertise and experience, so that the end result is a Win-Win for every nation involved. That is what makes for strong partnerships, and strong partnerships always make economic sense.
Hi, John. Your site and perspective are a breath of fresh air. I’m nominating you for the Mystery Blogger Award. For more information, please see here:
Thank You, Randyjw for your kind words!
All the best, JBS
☺ You should work cross-seas with our incoming US presidential administration. Maybe you should be the ambassador to the US?
Thank you for your very kind words!
I’d accept that position, for certain. Diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Britain would soar to all-time highs and we’d be doing hundreds of billions more in international trade, every year.
Best regards, JBS
Your ideas and ambitions are enthusiastically received. How does one make that happen? Become an MP? Work with Chamber of Commerce? Start a business? Write to Prime Minister Theresa May?
I would say, ‘All of the Above’.
Here in Canada where I live, writing one simple (well-written) letter or email letter to your MP produces astonishing results. Apparently, they get so few letters that when they get one, it gives them an instant platform to speak about.
Britain has almost twice the population of Canada, so I’m unsure if that works as well there.
But writing a blog, and commenting on popular articles in The Guardian, The Independent, The Mirror, The Sun, The National Post (Canada) etc. works well for me.
Sometimes people just need to see a well-thought-out idea on a webpage or a comment form. Once they get it — they really get it and you can see the conversation begin to change in later comments within the same thread — and in subsequent articles at the same site.
That’s what I find, anyway.
Getting the word out, is everything, IMHO.
Best regards, JBS
Yes, that’s true, John, and your niche in this space is like a bright, shining star in a mass of stifling mainstream. The repressed opinions have resonated and quietly compelled the majority to move our world to a better-working and more equitable place, I think. Each can play a part, according to their strengths. You definitely do have a strength with your present means of expression. I’m glad I’ve noticed it.
I have been a fairly long-time supporter of Trump from some years back, and I hope he will fulfill our hopes for a better world. Being such an ardent devotee, though not a blind follower, I looked up the Trump campaign and signed on to volunteer. Being a rather poor individual, I didn’t have computer access and private transportation, which is kindof considered an “expected given” in regular middle-class terms, here, in America. I participated in my first event and met some really nice people. But, with lack of equipment and slight incapacitation due to injury, I could not consider door-to-door canvassing or phone-bank calling from a non-existent personal computer or the commute by bus a realistic further commitment, and so decided that my vote, and my continued emotional and written support would be my own continued contribution to this cause. Thankfully, it worked. I’ve passed along a link to this post of yours, along with a linking to my 2012 (!) presidential cabinet hopeful picks, many who are being floated as potential candidates in this incoming administration, to my volunteer contact person during part of the campaign. I don’t know what will become of it, but if you desire further possibilities, you could examine your own strengths and decide which way you’d like to go and make the contacts needed to be made: as noted, many opportunities abound and we need to find the potential of each, accordingly. I can envision your involvement and hope you’ll find your best actions most-suiting your needs.
In any case, and on another note, John — I have found that, while it is an essential part of any issue (and I feel that any issue at all is always a political one), writing doesn’t always accomplish the task. At least that has been my personal experience. Perhaps my passive writing voice doesn’t generate command-worthy call-to-action; I’ve been in the media business (no longer) for enough time and years to know that good branding, placement and public relations image are essential. Perhaps I’m not focused or persuasive enough to not only influence, but to change, minds on issues of importance to me. In fact, even before Ms. May became Prime Minister, I wrote to her after perusing her website, in the hope that she might be receptive to my plea to annul the U.K. ban on several outspoken American conservatives, two of which were Jewish people critical of attacks against our people; being out of jurisdiction, I’m not sure my letter attained any results, other than an airing of the viewpoints of an imlassioned American citizen. But, as such, it was better than to have done nothing at all.
After many years’ continued effort regarding the fight against anti-Semitism, a cause close to my heart, I have little to show for my efforts. I do, though, have small victories, and these were hard-won. I felt, though, that with such little effect, more needed to be done. Therefore, I enacted a physical implementation to further pursue these ends: for instance, joining a program placing me in an assistive capacity for almost nine months amongst others of the IDF, and working to relieve them of the more mundane tasks to free them to protect our lives. This, I felt, was the most beneficial support I could undertake to give actual, physical direct support — at the site. I felt proud that I could motivate the fast-paced efforts of my geriatric group in a united effort under emergency crisis, surpassing those of even a bunch of strapping young Russian men. I didn’t know we were in a race, but the mantra in my mind that I kept repeating to myself was to work as if our lives depended on it — because, in all actuality, they really did. This gave me the greatest sense of accomplishment amongst all that I have done.
However, we fit in and do what we can. I’m not sure I could do today what I did back then. Writing, and generating ideas with vision for others to follow, is also good. Very good.
Thank you for this brilliant comment! And thanks for your kind words — now I must try to live-up to them!
Your writing is of high quality. Anytime you want to post an article on one of my sites, just let me know! You might want to check out some of my other blogs: ThisIsEisenhower.com or JohnBrianShannon.com to see where articles in your areas of interest might fit.
Further to your comment, I believe the next step for me (a year away) is to become, not only a blogger, but a public speaker on these issues.
Please keep in touch.
I have no doubt that the dream would be enough, even without the realization. I will know that you have always done this.
I’m keen on politics, yet it’s rather dry for my slightly bohemian , contrarian nature. I revert to the artistic, but enjoy imaginative entrepreneurialship and visionary thinking of a broader scale… as grandiose, at that, as it sounds.
I was tapped to develop my potential of influence in a program of highest caliber; I don’t know whether it was true, or perhaps may have been a more clever marketing tactic — in any case, I’m not sure that my chops are up to the task. But yours seem geared to that. So, perhaps you could further your reach in a think-tank institution; I definitely think you would expand in such an atmosphere. The Brookings Institution and the American Enterprise Institute are two such institutes, here in the United States. News producers often draw on experts from such institutes to provide commentary in television segments related to specific issues. Also, you could provide a written daily or weekly column to newspaper outlets, either with one, local or regional service or via a syndicated news-service, reaching broader markets.
In any case, I’m behind you, and will be rooting for you. Thanks for providing your other blog projects for awareness, and I wish you the continued success you deserve.
Thank you for your gracious comments.
As you’ve described, those are my longer-term goals.
Getting my thoughts in order about these issues, getting more information and improving my writing skills, are necessary steps towards those eventual goals — which is ‘where I’m at’ now.
Hope springs eternal, as they say. Therefore, I’m hoping to fulfill my best contribution as time rolls forward.
Thanks again for your great comments and for your kind words.
Best regards, JBS
Martin Hutchinson wrote that the natural trade partners for Britain would export food, energy, and raw materials.
Angola is interesting as a theoretical example. Before investing in that country, you should consider two potential draw backs:
You must be willing to do business with a nasty regime.
You must be willing to put up with extensive corruption.
The Chinese are willing. Their pattern is to build infrastructure in countries that offer abundant natural resources, such as energy and minerals. The nature of local government/domestic policies is of no concern of the Chinese, so long as the regime is willing to do business with China.
Great to get your comments on these topics.
I’m not against doing business with Angola. Sometimes we can make a bigger difference by working with and within a country, as opposed to placing a trade embargo on it. (See the U.S. / Cuban example and it’s limited success, vs. the Canadian / Cuban relationship where much actual good was accomplished since 1963, for one example of constructive engagement)
At the very least, if Britain was to fully engage with Angola, and then something went terribly wrong in the country, I would hope that by pulling British investment and companies out of the country, that in itself would have a dampening effect on any violence there. In the best case scenario, just the threat of removing British investment from that country, would be enough for it to adhere to international law, and internationally accepted modes of behavior by their government.
At that point, let’s hope that Britain had many billions invested, and that pulling all those billions would result in a catastrophe for the ruling government. That oughta’ moderate their behavior. (That’s exactly the way I’d play it)
I think that a Commonwealth Development Bank is badly needed, before Britain goes ahead with these sorts of plans. That is our key to get into those countries and it makes Britain a serious player, instead of a part-time investor, in any country, including Angola.
Angola’s largest source of income is oil. The second largest source is diamonds.
I came across a reference about an LNG (liquified natural gas) plant in the country.
I found a list of minerals in “exploitable quantities”: copper, gold, lead, manganese, tin, uranium, wolfram, zinc, phosphates, granite, marble, asphalt, talc, mica, feldspar, fluorite, sulphur, quartz, kaolin.
The country has a history of tropical and semi-tropical agriculture. A complication is land mines left over from civil war. There is a Japanese effort, with British support, to clear the mines.
A navigable river, the Kwanza River, connects the farm land with the Atlantic.
The country has potential in fisheries, forest products, and hydro-electric power.
Thanks for adding those points.
Angola certainly has all the metals and minerals that Britain needs, and also could provide a great opportunity for London’s banking sector to provide loans to government backed infrastructure projects, and to thriving industries there.
I like the idea of ‘being part of the solution’ via the landmine removal project with Japan. That’s the way to prove Britain’s good intentions.
Angola is another country that was ruled by the Portuguese, and has expressed an interest in the Commonwealth.
I can understand why the Chinese are interested in country. I can imagine a few other countries becoming interested, such as Britain and Japan.
I found the NAFTA articles regarding accession and withdrawal:
Article 2204: Accession
“Any country or group of countries may accede to this Agreement subject to such terms and conditions as may be agreed between such country or countries and the Commission and following the approval in accordance with the applicable legal procedures of each country”.
Thanks for posting it here.
NAFTA Article 2205: Withdrawal
“A party may withdraw from this Agreement six months after it provides written notice of withdrawal to the other parties”.
Not sure where to put this post….
John, I looked at your Irexit (BrexitCentral) link. Perhaps we should be thinking about trade deals that include the Republic of Ireland as well as the UK?
I certainly agree with you in principle.
Further, it would be very wise if PM Theresa May were talking to the Republic of Ireland as part of an ongoing conversation about what Brexit will look like for the UK and all the devolved UK governments, and importantly, about how Brexit will affect (benefit?) Ireland.
Ireland won’t be free to engage in free trade deals on its own for as long as it remains an EU member. But I don’t expect that to be the case for long.
Eventually the Irish will leave the EU and I hope they will be warmly invited by the highest levels of the UK government to negotiate a free trade arrangement with the UK, and by extension, with all of the Commonwealth nations.
Not only that, but The Commonwealth should be sending the right signals and warm invitations to Ireland to rejoin The Commonwealth and once again, participate as a full and valued member.
My hope is that NAFTA will continue in a Trump administration. But if the Americans withdraw — to keep it and simply rename it The Commonwealth Free Trade Agreement and invite all like-minded nations to join.
The well-being of Ireland and its people are of prime importance to the UK in the 21st century, therefore, I hope that both countries form a permanent (NORAD-style) joint naval and airborne military organization dedicated to patrolling the waters from Greenland to Calais and from Iceland to the Hebrides.
I think many Europeans are waiting to see how Brexit goes, then they will vote to jump ship too.
A majority of citizens from the Netherlands, France, possibly Ireland and the Scandinavian nations may soon vote to leave the EU.
Let’s hope PM Theresa May has her wits about her and isn’t caught flat-footed — but is able to capitalize on whatever situation arises to bring the best mutual benefit to the people of the UK and to the people of those nations.
Always great to read your comments! JBS
Let’s hope they jump ship before inertia sets in.
Sometimes we must make a decision before the moment passes.
Britons seized the opportunity to make a decision that will benefit them for the next 50 years, and yes, there will be difficulties (there always are when decisions of this magnitude are taken) however, a non-decision (had Britons voted to ‘Remain’ in the EU) would also affect them for the next 50 years.
Typical. The Brits never shirk from duty nor from any decision. They are an amazing people.
Yes. So true, everything you’ve mentioned. L’chaim!
As has been commented about the UK, the Irish would need alternative trade association(s). Again, the two possibilities that immediately come to mind are Commonwealth and/or NAFTA.