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A sea-change is upon the United Kingdom whether some have come to that full realization or not
The relationship between the UK and the rest of the world is beginning to change as the UK exits the European Union. Not only that, but the relationship between the UK and the other Commonwealth countries is changing. And while all of that is occurring, it is also a time of change in the postwar international order.
These changes are coming and we have no ability to stop them. What we do have though, is the ability to choose whether these changes are ultimately negative or positive for Britain.
The days of ‘Win-Lose’ politics are over
When every second country (seemingly) has WMD weapons, suddenly Win-Lose doesn’t work anymore. Do we really want to solve every issue between nations with nuclear weapons? Because eventually, that’s what it will come to.
It’s great if you ‘Win’. But then you ‘Lose’ because the fallout from large nuclear explosions travel around the Earth a few times per season and nuclear particles continue to exist in the environment for decades (some isotopes linger for 20,000 years) and as everyone needs to breathe the air, eventually you will inhale and, well, (do I really have to tell you this?) your lungs will filter the radioactive isotopes out of the air.
The ‘Winners’ of a WMD conflict will also become ‘Losers’ of that conflict within months. It’s nonsensical to consider nuclear war in the 21st-century.
All of which means, that in the final analysis, international hot points must henceforth be solved by the cool hand of diplomacy.
The days of fighting for Market Share are over
More than any other country, fighting for market share no longer makes economic sense for the UK, because every other country/corporation is likewise fighting for market share.
Larger countries with serious export expertise and fully developed and long-term foreign client relationships have a distinct advantage over a born-again United Kingdom re-entering the exporting world. Fighting for market share against far superior marketing superpowers like Germany and China is like paddling upriver in a hurricane, and good luck with that.
Rather than fighting for Britain’s slice of the pie, the UK should be the one country in the world that works to make the pie bigger for everyone! wherever free markets exist.
In that way, whatever global growth occurs will benefit all exporters equally — including Britain’s born-again export economy, because the UK will have as good a chance as any to capture some of that growing pie — as opposed to fighting companies well entrenched in foreign markets and trying to steal tiny percentages of their total market share. See the difference?
“Don’t fight a battle if you don’t gain anything by winning.” — Erwin Rommel
Rommel was right. And to adapt his truth to Britain’s new place in the world, fighting for market share in countries that are already well-served by European and Chinese exporters will gain British exporters very little and could create trade frictions between Britain and the European Union which is still the UK’s largest trading partner in the 21st-century. We don’t want that.
‘Win-Win and Growing the Market vs. ‘Win-Lose’ and fighting for Market Share
Win-Win political thinking and growing the global market is the best prescription for Britain’s economic future.
Countries with rapidly growing economies like the BRICS countries and many Commonwealth nations are the best places for Britain to concentrate its export efforts. By helping those countries to succeed more than they would have without the UK’s assistance, Britain can grow its export base by selling to people in rapidly growing developing nations enjoying their newfound discretionary income.
It’s all about rising Disposable Income in Developing Nations
The example of India is most poignant, because in that country the average discretionary income of citizens is doubling every five years; All Britain’s leaders must do now, is to work respectfully with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ministers to the end that British exports to India are welcome and that Indian exports to the UK are just as welcome. (It helps if both countries aren’t manufacturing and selling the same items, of course) If India sells toasters in both countries then Britain should sell kettles in both countries, if you take my meaning. The less overlap, the better.
A few years from now, when a larger percentage of India’s 1.5 billion population can afford to buy a new car, perhaps Indian companies will offer tuk-tuks, small cars and farm trucks for sale in India and the UK, while the UK sells family sedans and Landrovers in India and the UK.
Any other method of working to each country’s strengths — without stepping on each other’s toes — would also be profitable for companies of both countries. What matters is that whatever method is chosen works for companies in both countries.
With the right approach to rapidly growing countries and some standardized and respectful trade rules, the UK could help to grow the global pie, dramatically increase its own exports, keep good relations with exporting superpowers in Europe, China, and America, and be seen as a ‘White Knight’ to developing nations by playing a pivotal and ongoing role in helping them to build their economies.
That future is so much better than bickering over fractions of market share with other (and economically superior) exporting nations — the very countries that Britain depends upon in many ways.
Here’s to ‘Win-Win’ paradigms and growing the global economic pie; A plan that will work for the United Kingdom more than almost any other country — while preventing harm to Britain’s present and important trade relationships.
The Royal Mail is testing electric delivery vehicles to replace their 49,000 vehicle fleet with an eye towards lowering annual maintenance and fuel bills, and to help improve air quality in UK cities.
Royal Mail is testing-out a range of electric delivery vehicles to complement and eventually replace their 49,000 vehicle fleet. The smallest of these vans is pictured above with three (of the one-hundred on order) already delivering packages from the Mount Pleasant Mail Centre in London.
The new trucks come in three different payload ratings and the larger trucks are scheduled to begin operations later this year.
Three 3.5 tonne electric trucks, three 6 tonne, and three 7.5 tonne electric trucks will be tested in 2017.
“Royal Mail is delighted to be collaborating with Arrival and pioneering the adoption of large electric commercial vehicles. We are pleased to be the first fleet operator to take delivery of and trial these new larger payload vehicles which will complement the 100 electric vans we recently ordered. We will be putting them through their paces over the next several months to see how they cope with the mail collection demands from our larger sites.”
“Royal Mail is trialling a variety of vehicles to see which work best for us and are keen to share our experience with other fleet operators who may be considering introducing electric vehicles. We have trialled electric trucks before but not of this type of design and look forward to see what additional benefits they can bring to our existing fleet of around 49,000 vehicles.” — Paul Gatti, Royal Mail Fleet’s managing director
In congested and heavily polluted cities like London, switching from loud and smelly diesel-engined trucks to electric trucks can contribute to better air quality, as most of the fine particulate and soot found in city air is caused by diesel vehicle emissions.
“We are thrilled to partner with Royal Mail using our electric vehicles. Cities like London will benefit hugely from a switch to electric, in terms of both pollution and noise. Most importantly we are priced the same as diesel trucks removing the main barrier to go electric.” — Denis Sverdlov, CEO of Arrival
Formerly known as Charge Automotive, Arrival’s new 110,000 sq ft factory is located in Banbury, Oxfordshire.
Arrival says the trucks are built using, “revolutionary ultra-lightweight composite materials that significantly reduce the weight of the vehicle and by combining this technology with Arrival’s custom built hardware, including power electronics and motors, the cost of operating has been reduced by more than 50%.”
The company also says it’s pursuing autonomous driving technology and that the new trucks are ‘autonomous-ready’.
But what’s the real story here?
The real story is that 49,000 Royal Mail vehicles are going to need replacement within the next ten years. And not only the mail service, but hundreds of thousands of ambulances, courier company vehicles and private companies that haul their own freight will need replacement vehicles within ten years — and all of them could be built at the Arrival plant in Oxfordshire.
To say nothing of the number of delivery vehicles that will need replacement within ten years in every Commonwealth nation and throughout the rest of the world.
As much as I’m a fan of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van (and they are a great vehicle by any standard) these new Arrival vans come without a clattering and smelly diesel engine. And in today’s congested and polluted cities, that’s everything.
The freshest thing on many lips these days is organic food.
Yet, supply isn’t keeping up with demand even as prices for organic foods range from reasonable to outrageous and there isn’t a global standardized labeling system to inform retail shoppers that the produce is ‘certified organic’.
People want to buy food they know is organic and has passed rigorous government inspection to ensure the organic food claim is accurate — especially with some of those prices we see in the grocery stores (said every organic food shopper ever)
In the United States and Canada, big box grocery stores like Whole Foods, Sobey’s and others have rooftop gardens where they grow their own organic salad greens and other small vegetables. Everything from shallots to every variety of mushroom, cucumbers, tomatoes and more, are grown on the rooftops of those stores, or on rented space atop nearby buildings.
New York City and Chicago have some amazing rooftop gardens which offer public tours where you can see the food as it is being grown and speak to the people who grow your salad greens. Very cool stuff.
READ: Gotham Greens rooftop garden supplies organic food to Whole Foods stores in NYC (Whole Foods Market)
In Chicago, several indoor farming operations combine vertical farming with aquaponics. Small fish (tilapia) live in large holding tanks and their waste stream is the perfect organic fertilizer for plants. Eventually, the plants strip the nutrients out of the water, leaving only purified water to return to the fish tanks.
READ: Inside the Nations Largest Indoor Vertical Farm (EcoWatch)
The advantage of aquaponics is that no synthetic fertilizers are required to grow healthy organic food crops and millions of gallons of water are saved every year.
Panasonic grows 81 tons of organic produce every year in a nondescript 11,000 square foot warehouse in Singapore that meets .015% of all leafy green vegetable demand in the island nation and it hopes to reach a full 5% of the market within a few years.
The company is relentless in its pursuit to add efficiency to its indoor farming operation via their advanced electronic lighting and environmental control systems.
PHOTOS: Panasonic’s first indoor farm can grow over 80 tons of greens per year (Business Insider)
Taking things a bit deeper, Growing Underground grows its leafy greens in abandoned WWII-era tunnels beneath the City of London.
“Growing Underground is using a 550-square-metre area fitted with hydroponics that will produce about 20,000 kg of greens every year. As the business grows, so will the farm – they have 20,000 square metres to expand into. And their produce will be exclusively for consumers within the M25.”
READ: Growing underground: the hydroponic farm hidden 33 metres below London (Wired UK)
The above examples represent a fraction of the indoor farming operations worldwide and there is considerable room for growth in this market segment. Billions of pounds of produce are consumed every year globally and few countries have stepped up to ensure recognizable and standardized labeling to indicate these foods are 100% organic and are healthy for consumers.
It’s not only the benefits of organic food that we’re talking about here; Food that is grown locally doesn’t need to be trucked or flown hundreds of miles to get it to your grocer’s shelves. And locally grown food doesn’t need to be picked days prior to delivery and then warehoused for several more days prior to arriving at the market. It means you’re getting healthier, less bruised, and fresher produce. It also represents a drastic lowering of CO2 emissions per billion pounds of produce.
READ: Scotland’s first vertical indoor farm to be operational by Autumn 2017 (The James Hutton Institute)
It seems natural for the UK government to quickly agree on a standardized labeling system for organic food, much of which is grown indoors — which makes it easier to guarantee the produce is 100% organic and free from GMO cross-contamination or from chemical contamination such as pesticides, etc.
Once a standardized labeling regime is in place (and please, make the label graphics easy-to-read and easy-to-understand!) it will put UK organic farmers on the fast-track to grow their market within the UK, but also throughout Europe. And that’s just what this small but burgeoning segment needs.
Instead of getting their produce shipped in from Spain or the Netherlands, UK shoppers and restaurants will be able to buy UK certified organic vegetables and fruits that are grown within a hundred footsteps of the grocery store. And the jobs that are part and parcel of growing that organic food will be UK jobs, the energy required to power indoor farms will come from UK power companies, and the income taxes paid by British workers will be paid to the UK government, instead of workers in foreign countries paying their income taxes to their government.
It’s a ‘Win-Win-Win’ for British consumers and indoor farmers if the UK government can facilitate the exponential growth curve in locally grown organic foods. And if it doesn’t, countries like Germany and Denmark surely will.
By getting the standards and labeling handled early, organic food producers can then turn their attention to expanding their operations within the UK and begin making strong client relationships with grocery store chains from Iceland to Sicily.
Let’s hope that when the House of Commons resumes sitting this autumn that Theresa May will put a strong focus on growing a newish segment of the economy that still has plenty of growth potential.
- Futuristic farms to fight possible post-Brexit food supply problem (Sky News)