Free market fantasist often claim that laws and regulations stand in the way of business, but the example in this story indicate the opposite.
When men of power are not constrained by the rule of law, the costs of doing business can quickly rise to unsustainable levels.
While the example is of a factory in Nigeria, I have seen many similar cases in Asian countries. Investors discover the need to pay spurious "fees" on services, traders unable to clear their goods without paying exorbitant bribes... many sad tales often ending in bankruptcy.
Experiences like this show that those who see all laws and regulations as nothing more than "obstructive and superfluous red tape" are wrong.
In truth, some laws and regulations play a very positive for business. They can butter the path to profit rather than obstruct it.
Most importantly, it's the rule of law which decides whether regulations are costs or benefits. When all companies play by the same rules you have a level playing field. When some of your competitors are bribing officials to get around those rules this no longer is the case.
The ability to pay a one-off "fee" to circumvent some "annoying red tape" may appeal to some who have not experienced life in countries where this is the norm.
But businesses from such countries dream of the rule of law - a key reason why they traditionally invest in the UK.
They also appreciate the fact that they will be treated fairly and equally, that courts will judge disputes according to the merit of a case, without bias to whether a business is owned nationals, foreigners or the state. We're used to this here and take it for granted.
But those of us who have done business in countries that do not have strong culture of the rule of law know that its merits outweigh the costs.
This is why we are so alarmed when politicians in countries that ought to know better become willing to bend or break the law.
Whether this is deliberately ignored or unknown to the think tankers who want us to emulate such economies is a moot point. Most are young men with no business experience, let alone of the East, aside perhaps a short trip which left fond impressions of skyscrapers. So naive...
NB. Some people are misinterpreting this tweet. It's an argument for the rule of law and against the binary simplism that that sees all regulation as either bad or good. I am a free market pragmatist, opposed to overregulation.

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More from @patricklohlein

15 Jan
Good balanced report by @JoeCoshan on the announced closure of car parts factory Antolin Interiors in Sittingbourne.

The point about an "unfavourable geographical location" has interesting implications for post-Brexit Kent as a whole.


Brexit is likely to make the UK more "insular" in an economic sense because business likes to be close to its suppliers and markets.

Outside the Single Market, we can therefore expect a relocation of the UK's centre of economic activity towards its geographical centre.

This is positive on many levels. Being close to customers and markets doesn't just reduce costs for business, but has positive implications for society at large, not least because the North and Midlands need and deserve more investment, but it raises concerns for Kent.

Read 10 tweets
5 Jul 19
Let's be clear, a #NoDealBrexit is NOT a #CleanBreak. It's a #DirtyBreak that resets the clock on negotiations + will cause chaos as we immediately have to comply with WTO rules, lose the exemptions from the MFN clause which we currently enjoy.
2) WTO rules basically mean giving every other WTO member the same level of access to your market, "Most-Favourite-Nation" status.
The MFN clause forbids countries from offering preferential trade terms to another country unless these terms are offered to all other members.
3) WTO members are only permitted exceptions from the MFN clause if they are i) a less developed country, or members of ii) a Regional Free Trade Area or iii) a Customs Union.

At present the UK enjoys such an exception + preferential trade with many countries by being in the EU.
Read 9 tweets
10 Mar 18
1) Why am I, a remainer from Kent, putting all my energy into the #GreatNorthernMarch, rather than just getting on with activities in my own region?
It's because we need to mobilise the North to win this fight against Brexit. The north is where Brexit can and will be stopped.
2) If it were just about passion, I’d be going to Maidenhead on 24 March – to shout at Theresa May and wave a flag. But passion itself is going to get us nowhere. We need strategy to succeed. And the North is the place where we can best turn the tide.
3) The great cities of the North voted remain – the people of #Manchester, #Leeds, #Liverpool and #York knew what was and still is in their best interest. They all have strong groups: @Mcr4eu, @leedseurope, @Liverpool4EU and @York4EU who go on the streets and keep up the fight.
Read 10 tweets

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