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Airbus Execs Say Company May Leave the UK in a ‘Hard Brexit’ Scenario
The most obvious thing in the world has finally occurred and the only surprise is that it took so long!
Yesterday, Airbus said it would “reconsider its footprint in the country, its investments in the UK and its dependency on the UK,” and further stated that if Britain crashed out of the EU without a trade deal it would entail an “extremely negative outcome for Airbus,” and “would be catastrophic,” etc., etc.,
Certainly, UK Prime Minister Theresa May has said many times that she doesn’t intend on crashing out of the EU without a trade deal and she and her Cabinet have devoted much time and effort towards obtaining a deal.
Whether the EU side has reciprocated in that drive for a deal is another matter. Many of us understand the reason as some in the EU have hurt feelings, and still to this day some continental politicians can’t understand why the UK is leaving and why more than 17-million voters chose to leave the European Union.
Regardless, the UK is leaving. Of that there is no doubt.
If the EU and Airbus want to continue to sell aircraft to the UK they will continue to operate their facilities throughout the UK with no substantive changes.
But if they do leave, it presents an enormous opportunity for the government and companies in the United Kingdom to purchase Airbus properties in Northern Ireland and in Britain to create a homegrown aircraft manufacturer.
When Someone Wants to Leave, Do Yourself a Favour and Let Them Leave (on good terms)
Whether it’s a marriage, a business partnership, or a foreign manufacturer wanting to pull up stakes — do yourself a favour and let them go.
If you stop them from leaving it’s only temporary anyway! So cut your losses and move on brave souls.
There’s plenty to be said about helping them pack and in engaging in some polite small talk until they’re out the door.
Then, as soon as their gone, pull out a blank sheet of paper and design the domestic aircraft manufacturer of your dreams — and get on with it every day until it’s done!
That’s how you get onto the good stuff and prevent yourself from getting bogged down in anger, self-doubt, recriminations, and what-if scenarios. That stuff will drive you bonkers!
Which is why Theresa May needs to take the bull by the horns and politely inquire as to the asking price of all of the Airbus manufacturing facilities which are scattered all over Britain and Northern Ireland — and buy-out Airbus (UK assets only) ASAP.
It’s no time to be a wallflower, it’s time to create a domestic aircraft manufacturer, par excellence!
One that will create just as many (or more) jobs in the UK as Airbus.
Nationalize Airbus, With Intent to Sell
Nationalizing Airbus throughout the UK would cost a few billion, sure, but investors from all over the world would want to get in on THAT IPO!
Commonwealth countries — which make up 2.5 billion people — should be offered ‘first dibs’ on such an IPO to guarantee their participation in that new company, and to help ensure they will choose to order aircraft from that new entity.
The astonishing success story of Airbus, of Bombardier in Canada, and Brazil’s Embraer all point to the success that a UK airline manufacturer could enjoy (assuming the right management team of course) which could also produce their own ‘joint fighter’ and ‘joint bomber’ jets for Commonwealth and developing countries.
Canada could be tapped to produce the landing gear (for example) while Australia and New Zealand could build many of the components for the aircraft, while items with high labour costs (like sheet metal) could be manufactured in India, and seats and luggage bins could be made in Commonwealth nations in Africa and the Caribbean — and all of it shipped to the UK for final assembly and flight testing.
It really comes down to which Commonwealth country can build the best seats, or the best wings, etc., and then simply arrange a build plan around those capabilities.
‘Canada, what can you build better, cheaper, and faster, than any other Commonwealth nation to add to the new [enter name of aircraft here] and deliver it to us for final assembly on a timely basis?’ That’s how you approach each Commonwealth country.
Once the IPO has raised sufficient capital, the UK government could then sell it to that (primarily Commonwealth) investor group.
Not Only Will UK Airbus Jobs Be Saved, But an Entire Commonwealth-wide Aviation Industry Will Have Been Created!
Which is another way of saying; ‘Thank you, Airbus. I love you, and I will always remember you fondly.”
Once Brexit occurs, UK companies and citizens will no longer have the luxury of coasting along like snowflakes caught in a gentle breeze; Rather, UK citizens will need to ‘Man-up’ or ‘Woman-up’ (as the case may be) to rebuild the country into all that it could’ve and should’ve been, all along!
From now on gentle Britons, it’s sink or swim, win or lose, own or be owned… decide how you want to spend the next 50-years.
A great way to start is for the UK government to automatically nationalize every company that wants to pull out of the UK, hold it for up to 6-months, and then sell it to any appropriate investor group that has strong UK and Commonwealth connections and looks viable enough to pull it off in style.
That’s how you ‘Build a Better Britain’ Theresa May!
It looks like the so-called ‘Project Fear’ campaign has failed in its quest to force referendum after referendum until they got the answer they wanted (which to observers, seemed they wanted to stay in the European Union at any cost) and that Brexit will occur on March 30, 2019 as planned.
All that remains to be decided between the UK and the EU is whether future relations will be based on World Trade Organisation rules, or on a bilateral trade agreement that allows both sides to prosper while maintaining a reasonable level of protection for national sovereignty, for their respective economies, and is able to shelter startups or other businesses that may require some form of special treatment or protection.
Either UK and EU leaders are up to the task, or they’re not. We’ll soon know.
And if they aren’t up to the task, every one of them deserves to get the boot at the next election.
First on the Agenda for the UK
Of paramount importance for the UK are free trade agreements with its Commonwealth partners — agreements that automatically come into effect within 24 hours of the official Brexit date.
It’s important to begin with Commonwealth trading partners because if Commonwealth nations aren’t willing to sign bilateral trade agreements with the UK, why would other countries want trade deals with the UK?
(If I represented a non-Commonwealth country and the UK couldn’t get its act together enough to sign worthwhile free trade agreements with its own Commonwealth partners, I wouldn’t be interested in signing with the UK either)
Yesterday, Australia’s Prime Minister generously indicated his country will sign a bilateral trade agreement to automatically come into effect the day after Brexit, and New Zealand, Canada, India, and other Commonwealth nations have indicated they’re open to bilateral trade agreements with the UK too.
Therefore, it isn’t a reach to suggest that such agreements be ready for a signing ceremony the day after Brexit and that UK foreign direct investment (FDI) in those countries will thenceforth take an instant leap forward.
The time to get such negotiations done is NOW so that a simultaneous signing ceremony can be televised across each of the Commonwealth’s 53 capital cities at 00:01 (in the UK timezone) on March 30, 2019.
What a tribute to enduring relations between Commonwealth members. Such a historic moment!
Second on the Agenda for the UK
No later than 24-hours after Brexit (which puts us at March 31, 2019) the UK should have free trade agreements automatically coming into effect with every economy in the world — agreements that work for each country just as well as they work for the UK.
‘Win-Lose’ thinking is no longer an option in the 21st century and anything less than ‘Win-Win’ isn’t worth spit. In fact, unless trade agreements are ‘Win-Win-Win’ these days, their value is questionable.
If the UK offers a ‘Win-Win’ trade agreement to China, but Japan offers a ‘Win-Win-Win’ trade agreement to China; Which of the two countries will be China’s most favoured trading partner?
Obviously, Japan’s offer would win, and the UK offer would simply gather dust as Japan’s relationship with China surged forward.
These negotiations must occur NOW and be led with a high level of urgency by Prime Minister Theresa May and Secretary of State for International Trade Dr. Liam Fox, so that by April 1, 2019 the UK will have bilateral trade deals with every country in the world — that automatically come into effect the day after the official Brexit date.
Anything less than that stellar achievement should be considered by UK voters to be a mediocre performance by the (then) ruling party in the UK House of Commons.
As the debate heats up over President Trump’s 25 per cent steel tariffs and 10 per cent aluminum tariffs (some countries are exempted by Presidential Order) it’s interesting to look at other scenarios that might play out better for the United States — and for other countries too.
First, let’s look at the scale of the American trade deficit problem, then we can compare different methods to adjust trade flows to help the United States avoid a projected $880 billion trade deficit with the rest of the world by FY 2019. No country, not even the mighty United States of America can withstand annual trade deficits of that magnitude.
At the moment, America’s biggest trade deficit is with China ($215 billion/yr) followed by Japan ($68 billion/yr) and Mexico ($65 billion/yr) while many other countries run double-digit trade deficits against the United States. In totality, such trade deficits are simply unsustainable for the U.S. and President Trump is right to address the issue, however, there’s always more than one way to accomplish a thing.
The Nature of the Problem
America’s trade deficit is an astonishingly simple problem that has developed over four decades — because when a thing evolves without proper guidance and oversight, eventually it becomes the thing that eats you — which is what’s happening to the United States in the 21st century.
Because policymakers allowed this monster to grow, it means the U.S. will import $557 billion more than it exports in 2017, instead of maintaining a normal balance of trade like other countries. And 2018 is projected to produce an $880 billion trade deficit for the United States, with a $1 trillion trade deficit sure to arrive by FY 2020 if action isn’t taken to address this catastrophe.
President Trump claims that the American trade negotiators of previous decades were ‘weak’ and got ‘out-negotiated’ by other countries and blames them for the present (uncomfortable) moment. But that isn’t accurate. However, it plays well with voters, and media outlets especially, thank Donald Trump for that characterization.
What happened is that America opened trade with China and other developing nations beginning in earnest in 1974, allowing generous trading terms to add impetus to America’s trade liberalisation goals. American policymakers assumed that once those developing nations got a real economy going, citizens of those countries would then purchase billions of dollars of American goods and the gamble would pay off handsomely. And therein lies the problem. Not every country reciprocated America’s largesse.
China, Japan, and other countries simply grabbed the Americans by their largesse and began exporting evermore billions of dollars worth of goods and services to America without buying much of anything from the United States.
Note: In Japan’s favour, the country’s carmakers aggressively lobbied Washington to be allowed to build factories throughout the United States and Canada which provided thousands of jobs across North America every year since 1987. Also, Japan bought hundreds of billions of dollars worth of U.S. Treasury Bills to help maintain the American economy. These wise actions ameliorated the concerns of U.S. legislators about Japan’s trade imbalance with the United States from 1987-2017.
Which should qualify Japan for a ‘Free Pass’ from all steel and aluminum tariffs IMHO, as Japan was led to believe by American legislators that their actions neatly covered any trade negatives in the U.S. / Japan relationship.
Asleep at the Switch?
If someone in America had been ‘on this’ it would have never gone this far. But someone in America was asleep at the switch and that’s why we are where we are, in 2018.
The problem, therefore, isn’t that America got ‘out-negotiated’. The problem is that certain countries took advantage of America’s generous trade terms but were reluctant to accept imports from the United States.
Whoever was in charge of international trade in the U.S. from 1990 until 2018 should have Fried in Hell for not raising the alarm and writing some appropriate ‘fair trade’ legislation that would serve as a check and balance against such one-sided trade flows.
The $10 Billion Tripwire Method
Countries that run trade surpluses of less than $10 billion/yr with the U.S. shouldn’t face American tariffs as those numbers typically go up and down many times over the course of a decade and can even reverse direction to America’s benefit, and in any case, rarely become double-digit or triple-digit trade imbalances.
But once a country hits the $10 billion trade deficit threshold with the United States, it should trigger alarm bells from Alaska to Maine and appropriate tariffs (like Donald Trump’s high-ish steel and aluminum tariffs) should automatically apply on exports to the U.S. from any country that surpasses the $10 billion tripwire.
It’s such a good idea that every country should do it.
The 5% Method
If the United States charged a truly nominal 5 per cent tariff on every foreign good and service it would raise $150 billion per year which is a substantial amount of money for any country, even a superpower.
The U.S. could use that money to subsidize American companies hit hard by low-priced imports since 1990 (maybe by providing financing assistance to allow them to build newer, more energy-efficient factories for example), to improve transportation corridors throughout the country (especially near America’s seaports), to upgrade the actual port facilities to allow for faster and more efficient throughputs of American products being shipped overseas, and to enhance security at every single U.S. port of entry.
This too, is such a good idea that every country should do it.
Balancing an Unbalanced Equation
If the United States adds a nominal 5% tariff to all foreign goods and services, and then on top of that tariff penalizes (with industry-specific tariffs) only the countries that run more than $10 billion trade deficits with the U.S., the entire problem will be solved within 5 years and the American economy will boom like never before.
Also, in a booming U.S. economy, countries like China will find that orders from America will increase and any losses felt now will be recovered within a year or two.
‘Corrective’ Tariffs Need to Replace ‘Punitive’ Tariffs
The only way to conduct international trade is with respect, with proper checks and balances, with mild tariffs designed to make corrections to uneven trade flows resulting from poor policy in previous decades, and none of it needs to be confrontational or nasty.
For the sake of its hard-working citizens, American policymakers must address these imbalances in a businesslike way — not to punish other countries — but rather, to ensure that every country that trades with the U.S. is doing so in a fair and transparent manner.