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Instead of fighting for market share, it’s time to grow the global market!

It is a time of change in the United Kingdom

by John Brian Shannon

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 world wants quality UK goods and services.

The world wants quality UK goods and services. The demand is out there. You should be too. Image courtesy of HM Government.

Royal Mail takes delivery of electric trucks

by John Brian Shannon

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 electric trucks made by Arrival
Ranking 1000+ on the cuteness scale, these 3.5 tonne Royal Mail electric delivery trucks made by Arrival have a 100-mile range and feature zero emissions and no noise. Image courtesy of Royal Mail.

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.

Royal Mail 6-tonne van presently undergoing trials in London
Arrival’s 6-tonne electric van at the Banbury, Oxfordshire assembly plant which is presently undergoing trials in London. Image courtesy of Royal Mail.

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’.


This follows an announcement by the Royal Mail in July that they’ve also purchased 100 Partner electric minivans (made by Peugeot) for use on regular delivery rounds.

Peugeot Partner electric minivan delivers the Royal Mail.
Peugeot Partner electric minivan delivers the mail. Image courtesy of the Royal Mail.

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.

If Arrival plays its hand properly, it will become the Apple or TESLA success story of the decade.

Northern Ireland and the ‘Soft Border’ Option

by John Brian Shannon

Thanks to the dedication of thousands of people, the problems that plagued Northern Ireland for decades have all but disappeared. While we mourn those lost during ‘The Troubles’ we must move forward and provide the best possible future for the people of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

The best way to continue to move forward is for a ‘soft’ border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland so that the free movement of people and unimpeded trade may continue along the 310 mile border.

Many people on both sides of the border meet for tea, travel across the border to shop, or are employed on the other side of the border and it would be unfair to require these people to face a regular border crossing twice daily. And a hard border would definitely hinder trade, which trade is a vital part of the local economy along both sides of the divide.


A dedicated ‘Commonwealth and Ireland’ line at UK ports of entry

The smartest thing the Home Office UK Visas and Immigration department could do is to create a separate queue line at all UK ports of entry and mark it “Commonwealth and Ireland” so that people from Commonwealth countries or from the Republic of Ireland have a dedicated and streamlined entry into Britain.

In this way, goods and people can move much more efficiently between those jurisdictions.

If it sounds like I want to favour people from Commonwealth nations, you’re right. If it sounds like I want to favour people from Northern Ireland who may decide to fly to Britain, you’d be right. And if it sounds like I want Republic of Ireland citizens to easily travel to any part of the UK, you’d be right in that assumption.


Special Treatment at UK ports of entry: A ‘Nexus Card’ for frequent travelers between Ireland and any UK port of entry

Here in North America, citizens who cross the U.S. / Canada border can apply for a Nexus Card or an Enhanced Driver’s Licence — either of which dramatically speed border crossing times for holders of those cards — and not incidentally, also lowers wait times for the people in the non-Nexus lineups because fewer people (or vehicles) are traveling in that particular queue — it’s a bonus for frequent travelers in North America.

Such a streamlined customs experience should be extended to all Irish citizens as a courtesy — and for the Republic of Ireland in exchange for their help in patrolling and securing the soft border with Northern Ireland.


The UK Government (UK.gov) Paper on Northern Ireland and Ireland

Stormont is the seat of the Northern Ireland Assembly and is located in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Stormont is the seat of the Northern Ireland Assembly and is located in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Image courtesy of visitbelfast.com

“The UK government pledges to protect the Belfast Agreement and Common Travel Area in new position paper published August 16, 2017.

The Government has today published a comprehensive paper which outlines the UK’s position on addressing the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland and the land border with Ireland.

The position paper — which has been published ahead of the August negotiating round — states that the Government will protect the Common Travel Area (CTA) and associated rights for UK and Irish citizens, and put upholding the Belfast (‘Good Friday’) Agreement at the heart of its Exit negotiations.

The paper also puts forward proposals on avoiding a hard border on the movement of goods — making clear the UK’s position that there should be no physical infrastructure at the border — and plans to preserve the wide range of institutional cooperation between Northern Ireland, Ireland and Great Britain including for the energy market.” — From the UK.gov website


Trade Between the UK and the Republic of Ireland

Billions of pounds sterling in trade crosses between the UK and the Republic of Ireland and a significant amount of it is spent in the small and medium-sized business (SME) trade. Keeping the border open, yet enhancing security will be a challenge for both the UK and the Republic of Ireland, but with good will and some visionary thinking it shouldn’t be too difficult to get an agreement that benefits the largest number of people.

Brexit - Ireland and UK trade
Brexit – Ireland and UK trade in numbers. Image courtesy of cso.ie

A Soft Border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland is in everyone’s interest

For as long as the Republic of Ireland remains a member of the European Union it’s in everyone’s best interests to keep the soft border arrangement and to work together to enhance security on both sides of that soft border by any reasonable means.

If that means having facial recognition technology and vehicle license plate readers at all government buildings and properties, ferry terminals and international airports in Northern Ireland and Britain, it’s a small price to pay to preserve and enhance security for the EU, for the Republic of Ireland, and the UK including Northern Ireland.

The soft border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland must work for citizens of each country, for small (and large) business, and it must ensure a high level of security for both the EU and the UK. This is one Brexit negotiation that must succeed for the benefit of all.