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Until the official Brexit date of March 29, 2019 the UK remains in the European Union — which means that Britain remains a party to the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada.
And the CETA accord is a very fine agreement (as it should be, because it took 7-years to negotiate) but it may take another year or two to become fully implemented. At the moment CETA is only partially implemented, but eventually 98% of tariffs between Canada and the EU will be eliminated.
Once Brexit happens on March 29, 2019, the UK will cease to be a CETA signatory and something else (a ‘drop-in’ agreement) will need to replace it.
That is the topic of this blog post.
Enter the United States, Canada, and NAFTA.
Where’s Canada on the International Trade Map?
Canada is a surprisingly strong exporting country. With a population of only 36 million and a territory that measures 3.855 million square miles, it means the country is practically empty.
Across this huge landscape are fields of crops larger than the entire UK, but Canada’s few cities are large. In fact, the Greater Toronto Area (the GTA) is larger and has a greater population than the New York Metropolitan Area.
And it’s an exporting superstar; Making it the 11th highest exporting nation in the world.
“Canada is currently the fourth largest exporter of cars in the world and the ninth largest auto producer in the world, making 2.1 million cars a year. Trade with the U.S. is by far the most powerful driver for the automotive sector.” — Export Development Canada
What if There’s No New NAFTA Agreement?
If the NAFTA agreement falters due to insufficient efforts between U.S. and Canadian negotiators Canada will end up producing cars for itself — which means it won’t be exporting 1.8 million cars to the United States annually once NAFTA is terminated (or) once President Trump slaps a 25% tariff on Canadian cars exported to the United States.
Which means a lot of Canadian autoworkers are going to become unemployed the day after that announcement.
Which means that Canada (insert drum roll here) needs a ‘Plan B’.
President Trump Isn’t ‘Being Evil to Canada’ He’s Protecting American Interests Because That’s His Job!
You can’t blame him for that. For goodness sake he’s the President of the United States, not of Canada.
But Canada can’t sit idly by and wait for the world to end. The country must pick itself up and get on with business.
And the best way to do that is to respectfully approach the UK and inform them that it’s likely NAFTA will be terminated or changed in ways that result in Canada having an excess auto manufacturing capacity of up to 1.8 million units per year.
Such manufacturing capacity could be very useful to the UK government and to UK industry.
How Canada and the UK can Work Together for Mutual Benefit
The cost of living in the UK is much higher than it is in Canada, therefore wages in the UK are higher than in Canada.
And it’s the reason why only premium car lines are built in the UK where the high labour cost for exceptional hand-built cars are reflected in the final price and nobody minds paying extra. See; Aston Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover, etc.
Even Rolls Royce and Bentley were forced to move to continental Europe because they couldn’t afford the high labour costs of UK workers and the costly land/building/business costs of manufacturing cars in the United Kingdom.
Post-NAFTA, huge opportunities exist for Canada to export lower-priced GM, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler (FCA) cars and trucks to the UK — freeing-up huge amounts of disposable income for Britons.
Which means that saved money will be spent elsewhere in the UK — whether on home renovations, tuition, school supplies, vacations or investments — because it isn’t going anywhere (it isn’t going to magically vanish!) it will simply be spent on other items.
Any Canadian-built vehicles that are exported to the UK over what the UK market can sustain can be forwarded to Commonwealth of Nations countries by UK re-exporters.
India alone has a population of 1.32 billion and its economy is rising fast to become the third-largest consumer economy in the world. There’s no lack of demand for cars and trucks in the Commonwealth.
A Must Read: India Poised To Be Third Largest Consumer Economy (Forbes)
All of which works to help the UK economy.
Trump Wins, Trudeau Wins and May Wins!
President Trump wins because he will have prevented Canada from exporting 1.8 million vehicles to the United States annually, and American factories (meaning American workers) will need to fill that demand gap, Prime Minister Trudeau wins because he will have saved the Canadian jobs associated with the manufacturing of those 1.8 million cars and trucks, and Prime Minister May wins because she will have ushered in three new lines of lower-priced vehicles for UK consumers and those savings will translate into higher levels of disposable income for British consumers that can be spent elsewhere in the UK economy.
It’s so easy when you know how...
The China Internet Network Information Center says the country recorded a jump in internet users of 30 million during the first half of 2018 alone
Excerpt from Bloomberg News: “Chinese internet users have crossed the 800 million mark for the first time ever as of June 2018, according to the 42nd China Statistical Report on the Internet Development issued by China Internet Network Information Center. With 802 million internet users, China’s user-base is larger than the combined populations for Japan, Russia, Mexico and the U.S., according to International Monetary Fund data.”
As the graphic above shows, there are more internet users in China than there are citizens in all of the following countries combined: Japan, Russia, Mexico and the United States.
With internet use in China alone growing at an annual rate greater than the entire population of the United Kingdom you’d think that even the most inept exporters in the world would be lining up to trade with the huge moneypot called China.
Yet, because China isn’t selling itself as a huge marketplace for the world’s exporters and because Brexiteers haven’t ventured to research this part of the Brexit equation, it’s left to Bloomberg News (and me) to inform you of these astonishing developments.
Jacob Rees-Mogg’s European Research Group is a fine organization devoted to fleshing-out the political intricacies of Brexit, trade with the EU in the post-Brexit timeframe, and other Eurocentric matters. Yet, when we view charts like the one above it becomes startlingly clear that an Asian Research Group is needed to fully inform us about politics and trade with Asia in the post-Brexit era.
For example: How many Jaguar cars have been sold in the EU over the past 12 months?
And whatever that number is, it will be a static number for the simple reason that only so many EU citizens can afford a Jaguar motorcar and every one of them simply phones the local Jaguar dealership to order the Jag of their dreams and the car is delivered to their home a few days later.
Yet, I can only surmise that *isn’t* the case in China…
How many Jaguars *aren’t* being sold in China
How many Jaguar cars and SUV’s aren’t being sold in Asia because nobody bothered to research the full potential of the Asian market, or if they have, why aren’t Jaguar building three more factories in the UK to meet the demand of the rapidly growing Chinese middle class?
If internet users in China alone have risen from 22.5 million in year 2000 to 802 million partway through 2018, that demonstrates astonishing growth in their middle class. And if those people are ordering goods and services on the internet because their disposable income is rising fast, why isn’t there an entire department of HM government devoted to helping UK companies to get those online orders instead of just standing idly by and allowing other countries to snap up that business?
By 2030, there will be 1.6 billion internet users in China. How many Jaguar sales will have been lost by then?
It’s Not Only Cars…
Millions of pounds sterling are being lost every month since year 2000 because nobody in the UK government was put in charge of this.
Heads should roll over this shameful ‘oversight’ and not only in the government.
Heads also in the Bank of England, London School of Economics, London Stock Exchange and other organizations need to stop whatever they’re doing right this minute and phone whomever it is that can quickly address this stunning oversight.
Driving along the M4 on your way to the LSE right now? Have your driver pull the car over — you’ve got an important call to make — one that’s 18-years overdue.
With the right stewardship of the country, any good or service the UK produces should have seen the same kind of sales increases as the number of Chinese internet users since 2000. Disposable income is disposable income — and it’s better that UK business gets that disposable income rather than businesses from some other country.
From which, I can only assume that there *hasn’t* been proper stewardship of the UK economy since year 2000.
It goes without saying that nobody knew for certain how the internet was going to grow back in the early 2000’s, therefore, policymakers of that era are largely free of blame. But as each subsequent year passed, this should’ve been addressed with increasing urgency. Certainly, everyone on planet Earth knew by 2005 that the Internet of Things (IoT) was going to be a major part of our civilization in a few short years.
But the silence especially in the UK has been deafening.
“The global IoT market will grow from $157B in 2016 to $457B by 2020, attaining a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 28.5%.” — Forbes
Forget About Cars for a Moment – and Think About Everything Else the UK Produces
As noted earlier, it’s not all about the UK-built cars that aren’t being exported to Asia in huge numbers.
Everything that the UK produces or manufactures in a year could be sold to China and the lot of it wouldn’t register a tiny blip on the Chinese financial charts as demand in the country is massive and it continues to grow at a geometric rate.
If the UK tripled its entire annual GDP in goods, services and produce and then shipped all of it to China, it still wouldn’t produce a blip on the charts. And China continues to grow its economy at (artificially held to lower than) double-digit growth rates.
“GDP Annual Growth Rate in China averaged 9.61 percent from 1989 until 2018, reaching an all time high of 15.40 percent in the first quarter of 1993 and a record low of 3.80 percent in the fourth quarter of 1990.” — Trading Economics
Asia is the land of opportunity for all who have eyes to see and ears to hear. There isn’t a reason good enough for the UK government or British business to ignore it one more day.
For all the talk about negotiating a reasonable Brexit deal with the EU, not much negotiating has happened almost 2 1/2 years on from the EU referendum in which a majority of UK voters informed the government to make preparations to leave the European Union.
Any Brexit negotiations have taken one of two forms; Theresa May endlessly negotiating with her own party over the terms, or the Europeans saying a polite but firm ‘No’ to any proposals put forward by the UK Prime Minister.
And when we look at the results of Theresa’s well-intentioned attempts to obtain a Brexit deal, we see the results have been disappointing.
Although as we near the official Brexit date of March 29, 2019 it’s likely to change for the better. Assuming responsible leaders on both sides of the English Channel, each month from September 2018 onward should see increasingly frantic negotiations culminating in a reasonable Brexit deal for both sides.
Even if some sectors of the economy are left off the table until later in the year, responsible negotiators will guarantee that EU cars can continue to be sold in Britain and that UK services can continue to be sold on the continent without punishing tariffs or other trade barriers on either side of the Channel.
If May, Merkel, Macron, etc., can’t meet that low definition of success, the lot of them should be thrown from power at the next election and never be returned to political office as that failure would represent the worst-yet political failure of the 21st century.
Only in ‘low ambition Europe’ could such a thing occur. Nowhere else in the world could politicians set such a low bar… and then fail to meet even that (low) challenge.
How to get the EU to the Negotiating Table
Again calling on the wisdom of Winston Churchill who said, “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results,” we see the results of Theresa May’s negotiating strategy — which has consisted of Theresa negotiating with her party, the government opposition benches, and various lobby groups (some of dubious credentials) and highly placed individuals who work directly or indirectly for HM government.
While it can appear that the Prime Minister has done everything ‘right’ it can sometimes occur that you can do everything ‘right’ and still fail.
It’s time to try a new strategy to get the Europeans to the negotiating table — but that doesn’t mean dropping the truly excellent speeches, the traipsing around Europe to discuss Brexit with EU leaders, nor does it mean ending the quiet but competent diplomacy that’s been a hallmark of Theresa May’s premiership. What it means is adding a new strategy to the existing strategy, henceforth a ‘two-track’ plan designed to cause EU leaders to run (not walk) to the table to begin earnest ‘Win-Win’ discussions on the matter of Brexit.
And it’s so easy to cause that to happen. It means employing the one factor that Theresa May hasn’t employed thus far — political courage. (OK, the Chequers ultimatum was pretty cool. I think we saw a smattering of Theresa May’s potential there)
Some might counter that ‘courage’ has no place in delicate discussions, that diplomacy is always a ‘risk little/gain little’ proposition. But it’s only that if you make it that. Full stop.
The Americans didn’t win the Cold War using the ‘risk little/gain little’ diplomatic modality, the Americans ended the Cold War soon after President Reagan employed political courage in America’s negotiations with the Soviet Union by announcing the vastly expensive Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) that would’ve been prohibitively costly for the Soviets to match and counter. So costly in fact, it would have bankrupted the former Soviet Union to meet the perceived threat of SDI.
In reality, SDI was nothing more than a policy wonk’s vision. Thankfully, SDI never saw the light of day.
The one thing that we must note is that President Reagan’s team didn’t end the polite diplomatic rapport with the Soviets during that tense period — on the contrary, they ramped-up their diplomatic efforts as never before and employed political courage (courtesy of the SDI gambit) to achieve the results they wanted all along.
In short, it worked.
“If you keep on doing what you’ve been doing, you’re going to keep on getting what you’ve been getting.” — Jackie B. Cooper
What Theresa May needs to do now is to employ a gambit, a play to make EU leaders actually see value in a reasonable Brexit deal, a device designed from its inception to guarantee a ‘Win-Win’ result for both sides. If it isn’t seen as a ‘Win-Win’ from both sides, there’s no point in employing it for it will surely fail.
Therefore, whatever frustration May must be feeling with EU leaders, now is the time to drop it and move forward with a two-track plan; One; get the EU to the table, Two; continue with the excellent diplomacy she’s employed until now.
Make ‘a Brexit Deal’ a Better Option for the EU than ‘a Hard Brexit’
Using the same sort of gambit that President Reagan employed so well to help end the Cold War, Theresa May should likewise (and very diplomatically) create a gambit that helps the EU see the value of signing a Brexit accord in advance of March 29, 2019.
- At present, the UK sources 30.35% of its total food demand from the EU (ONS statistics) but other jurisdictions want to purchase EU produce and meats too, so let them! That 30.35% stat has fallen in recent years anyway.
- Begin replacing EU food imports to the UK by growing those foods in the UK or changing to non-EU suppliers at a fractional rate. (North America’s agriculture belt is so massive it could easily supply 100% of the UK’s food let alone the 30.35% that the EU presently supplies)
- Starting September 2018, Theresa May’s government could direct the UK to buy 1/5th less food from the EU per month. That sounds like a lot of effort, but during WWII (over a period of a few months) a much larger scale of change was forced on Great Britain, and both the United States and The Commonwealth of Nations stepped in to supply Britain with everything it formerly purchased from the continent (not only food, but everything!) and it worked.
Let’s assume that after 6-months of zero progress in Brexit negotiations the UK would no longer be buying any produce from the EU, therefore why would anyone spend one moment worrying about EU *food tariffs* or *non-tariff trade barriers* when food is no longer being imported from the EU?
Yes, British farmers would lose the ability to export their produce to the EU. But as EU exports to the UK drop, UK farmers will simply sell more produce to UK customers. Nothing will change for British farmers except the destination of their goods.
But at any time within the 6-month period the EU could agree a Brexit deal and stop the decrease in EU food exports to the UK.
Some crops may need to be sourced elsewhere. Again, the United States agricultural belt is so massive it could supply the UK with 100% of its food needs without any problem. Canada too, has enough arable land to supply 100% of UK food needs — although it doesn’t have the same labour capacity as the United States to produce large quantities of food and harvest it — Canada would need to import UK labourers each harvest season if Canada were supplying 100% of UK food consumption.
However, it’s only 30.35% of the UK’s total food demand that might need replacing, not 100% of Britain’s total food demand — making it a small problem to substitute EU produce with North American produce.
And UK farmers and ranchers are likely to pick up more than half of the 30.35% within one season, leaving less than 15% of the UK’s total food demand for North America to supply to the UK. Such a tiny amount wouldn’t even register as a blip on the financial charts of North American food exporters.
A commitment by HM government to political courage may result in a rather large upside for both the UK and the EU — a true ‘Win-Win’ Brexit deal.
- This week we talked about EU food exports to the UK and how employing some political courage could help drive the EU to the Brexit negotiating table, without ending Theresa May’s excellent diplomatic efforts (which have so far returned zero, but it’s still theoretically possible that diplomacy could yield a positive result) and thereby gain a ‘Win-Win’ Brexit deal.
- Lowering EU food imports to the UK by 1/5th per month might be the incentive needed to get the EU to the table. We’ll know within 6-months.
- Next week, we’ll talk about lowering EU auto imports by 1/5th per month in an attempt to get European Union negotiators to the table to work out a reasonable Brexit deal.