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Pete North @PeteNorth303
, 22 tweets, 5 min read Read on Twitter
1. Watching the #Brexit debate unfold on my timeline is increasingly surreal. Tory drones are mounting an anti-chequers campaign despite all the signals from Barnier that the EU is not even willing to entertain it. And it gets even weirder...
2. The chief objection to Chequers is it would tie us to EU standards which would prevent us from diverging, which in their view restricts an independent trade policy. They are not even on this planet. For a start, divergence is a sure fire way of kill our trade with the EU.
3. Divergence and relaxed standards means that any goods travelling from the UK to the EU face a higher rate of inspection. That alone is enough to kill a supply chain. But it doesn't even make any sense in respect of trade with the rest of the world.
4. All you have to do is crack open an EU FTA or EPA and you will see that the core standards demanded by the EU are international standards we are obliged to adopt by way of the WTO agreement on Technical barriers to trade.
5. The whole point of EU economic partnership agreements is to expand and enhance regional integration built on those same global standards. The EU got there first and African states are not going to diverge for the UK.

trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/20…
6. Presently DfID is working on several trade facilitation projects to assist African states in meeting those standards so that they can export to Europe. Cutting corners on standards undermines the international effort to improve standards.
7. The UK is presently one of the main contributors to the WTO Standards and Trade Development Facility which works on removing customs formalities and increasing the profitability of supply chains.

standardsfacility.org/facilitating-s…
8. Divergence on standards is a regressive approach to trade and there is absolutely zero economic utility in divergence not least since standards are there to cut out fraud and counterfeiting which is a greater cost to trade than tariffs.
9. So by ditching this approach the UK would not only be binning most of its trade with the EU, it would also be running counter to many of its WTO obligations and trashing nearly twenty years of trade development.
10. Moreover if you look at some of China's more recent agreements, they also embody text from the WTO TBT agreement verbatim - committing to the use of international standards. There simply isn't a market for divergence.
11. So the entire Brexit debate centres on a plan that won't be accepted in favour of a plan that doesn't exist with the ambition of doing something that business doesn't want and nobody will commit to.
12. UK manufacturers and producers will not import components that do not meet the global standard because anything they produce cannot then be re-exported - especially not to the EU. That means any domestic divergent regime will be optional.
13. And being that it costs a lot to adapt to a different regime, UK producers won't bother if they don't have to, rendering the whole exercise completely pointless. We're burning our export potential for no credible reason.
14. Again we come back to the simple fact that if we want frictionless trade with the EU then that will require full regulatory harmonisation and the only known way of doing that is through the EEA agreement. Anything else means we are subject to standard third country controls.
15. Any future trade policy has to be established on the basis of regulatory diplomacy, playing a full and active role in the development of standards in the global bodies and working on partnership agreements to improve standards implementation.
16. Tinkering with tariffs and taking shortcuts with regulations is entirely the wrong way to stimulate trade. To a point we have already reached a state of trade normalisation so we need to focus on improving profitability of existing trade.
17. That is going to require long term cooperation and and a lot of international development spending - something the UK does better than most of the world. On that we have some of the best brains in the business.
18. The Tories would have us wreck all of that to peruse regressive unilateral policies, cutting corners and trashing our soft power by departing from common goals on trade development. They are dinosaurs. It's almost like not one of the Brexiters has ever read an FTA.
19. The only real market for divergence is the US since the US is increasingly pulling away from mulitlateralism but there are serious doubts any deal with the US can be concluded and there is no possible way it can be a substitute fro the single market.
20. And this is what makes Nick Bole's efforts equally risible. Why would be spend years re-engineering the EEA for UK entry only for us to dump it and become a third country? It doesn't make any sense.
21. This fad for divergence comes from the the IEA morons - which is based on 20 year old narratives from back when single market imbalances did make it difficult to trade with the EC but we have seen twenty years of continuous improvement.
22. For all that there were new measures to facilitate EC trade, member states maintained their local standards regimes which meant national red tape could be used as a barrier against UK competition. That is no longer the case. Tory scriptures are completely obsolete.
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