The independent London newspaper

Post-Brexit trade deals would put the squeeze on developing countries

04 May, 2018

• STEPHEN Southam’s letter about the EU’s customs union is misconceived for several reasons, (EU, a driver of poverty, April 27).

First, Brexit was sold to the British people on the basis that the UK would leave the EU and enter into an unspecified trade arrangement with the EU that many Brexiteers said would replicate the advantages that the UK currently enjoys but give the UK control of its money, laws and frontiers.

The last was specifically frontier control in relation to immigration because many Brexiteers (but not all) favour no frontier controls at all on the movement of goods. Membership of a customs union with the EU ticks all the Brexit boxes. To oppose it being on the negotiating table is to show contempt for the people.

Second, customs unions are not drivers of poverty since they are simply arrangements between states to have the same customs arrangements for external trade and no customs barriers for trade between the parties to the arrangement.

Brexiteers need to wise up to the fact that, if the UK leaves the EU, the result will be negative for Commonwealth countries. The UK will be backing out of trade arrangements that it currently has with them and replacing those arrangements with tariff barriers that currently don’t exist.

The government wishes to negotiate new arrangements, but on a country-by-country basis, the driver being the UK’s self-interest. Poor developing countries are not high on the government’s list, which seems to start with Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the US (Has anyone noticed what differentiates those countries from an African or Caribbean country?).

If Mr Southam objects to the way in which (he says) the EU negotiates with Commonwealth countries, he ought to be incandescent about Brexit. What do you call a country that backs out of existing deals benefiting developing countries just so that it can put the squeeze on them in its own self-interest? Who voted for that?

Ellington Street, N7


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