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Contingency plan for a no-deal Brexit: proposals to ferry in critical supplies – food, medicines and possibly car parts

The FT reports that David Lidington, Mrs May’s de facto deputy, has briefed the cabinet that under a no-deal Brexit, the Dover-Calais route could be running at only 12-25% of its normal capacity for up to six months.

“Whatever we do at our end, the French could cause chaos if they carry out checks at their end,” said one government official. “Dover-Calais would be the obvious pinch point. The French would say they were only applying the rules.” This would force Britain to seek alternative ways of bringing in “critical supplies”.

Chris Grayling, transport secretary, has discussed with government colleagues the possibility of chartering ships, or space in ships, to bring supplies into other British ports, thus avoiding the Dover-Calais bottleneck.

Government officials say they do not expect to have to use legal powers to requisition ships, although with only five months to go until Brexit on March 29, there is little time to charter ships on the open market.

According to the FT’s George Parker and James Blitz this move was greeted with disbelief at a stormy meeting of Theresa May’s cabinet on Tuesday. The prime minister announced there would now be a weekly cabinet discussion on preparations for Brexit, whether under a deal or no-deal scenario. If Britain left the EU under World Trade Organization rules, the UK and EU would be in different customs jurisdictions and would be expected to carry out checks on trade across the English Channel.

Some 30% of all Britain’s food requirements are met from imports from other EU countries; Dover is a key port of entry, with over 2.5m heavy goods vehicles passing through the port each year.

Pauline Bastidon (sic), head of European policy at the Freight Transport Association, said: “We are open to all kinds of ideas about how to keep supplies flowing in a no deal Brexit. But it’s hard to see where the extra ships would quickly be found. Nor can I see how other UK ports could possibly handle the huge volumes currently going through the Dover strait.”

The Times adds: Dover handles more than 2.5 million lorries a year and has no capacity to hold trucks waiting for advanced customs clearance. Other UK ports (Ed: see map, right) do have that capacity and could be used to take some Dover traffic. And, reassuringly:

“Ministers say that disruption would also damage EU companies and that there would be political pressure from member states for the European Commission to mitigate the most damaging aspects of a breakdown in talks”.

 

 

 

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A new twist in the TTIP saga

“The Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership: European Disintegration, Unemployment and Instability”

Dr Clive Peedell, (NHAP), has forwarded information about the work done recently by Jeronim Capaldo, a research fellow at the Global Development and Environment Institute (GDAE) at Tufts University in Boston, highly ranked by QS and Times Higher Education.

According to proponents such as key mover, Stuart E. Eizenstat, the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership will stimulate growth in Europe and in the US. Eizenstat enthuses at length in AT&T’s international public policy blog.

ttip meetingSome projections endorsed by the European Commission point to positive, though negligible, gains in terms of GDP and personal incomes. Others make greater claims, asserting that the deal will add over £100 billion to the UK and European economies every year.

However, social media has recorded an unprecedented level of opposition to the treaty. One representative example of such thinking by James Bruges may be seen here (scroll down).

Recent literature has pointed out several problems in the most influential assessment of the TTIP’s effects. Projections by different institutions have been shown to rely on the same Computable General Equilibrium model that has proved to be inadequate as a tool for trade policy analysis, ‘lacking microfoundations and the dual instability problem’.

gdae header

Jeronim Capaldo’s Working Paper 14-03 assesses the effects of TTIP using the United Nations Global Policy Model, which is said to incorporate more valid assumptions on global trade, macroeconomic adjustment and employment dynamics.

The UN site explains: “The model allows users to . . .trace macro-economic outcomes over short, medium and long-term timescales. It is a model of the world economy design to simulate the macroeconomic impacts on countries and regions of exogenous shocks to the global economy, the potential effects of ‘sea changes’ in market confidence (such as reversals in financial market confidence following asset price bubbles), changes in international regulation of trade and finance and the international spill-over effects of major policy changes in major economies”.

capaldoCapaldo and his team project that TTIP will lead to a contraction of GDP, personal incomes, employment, an increase in financial instability and a continuing downward trend in the labor share of GDP: “Evaluated with the United Nations model, TTIP appears to favor economic dis-integration, rather than integration, in Europe. At a minimum, this shows that official studies do not offer a solid basis for an informed decision on TTIP”.

A link to his paper is given above and the Executive Summary may be read in alarming detail here.

dr clive peedell 3Dr Clive Peedell’s party has already argued that TTIP poses multiple threats to the UK, opening up the NHS to further and permanent privatisation, removing key social and environmental protections from transnational corporations and allowing corporations to sue the UK under the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clause. He adds:

“But this latest research blows a further hole in the economic argument of those who claim the deal will add over £100 billion to the UK and European economies every year. If the entire economic basis of TTIP is also now in question, there seems little reason for the deal to go ahead.”

Jeronim Capaldo (email: jeronim.capaldo@tufts.edu)

International political corporate allies seek a further expansion of power

George Monbiot 3A few days ago an alert received from George Monbiot pointed out that the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) would greatly extend their power in the European Union by including the investor-state dispute settlement system in trade treaties.

This would allow big business to sue governments: a panel of corporate lawyers could overrule the will of parliament and remove legal protections from the individual.

He points out that investor-state dispute settlements are already being used in favour of corporates in many parts of the world, for example:

  • The Australian government, which decided cigarettes should be sold in plain packets marked with health warnings, is being sued for the loss of the tobacco company’s intellectual property.
  • Argentina imposed a freeze on people’s energy and water bills. It was successfully sued by the international utility companies whose bills had prompted the government to act.
  • In El Salvador, local communities persuaded the government to refuse permission for a vast gold mine which threatened to contaminate their water supplies. The Canadian company which sought to dig the mine is now suing El Salvador for $315m – for the loss of anticipated future profits.
  • In Canada, the courts revoked two patents owned by the US drugs firm Eli Lilly, because the company had not produced enough evidence that they had the beneficial effects claimed. Eli Lilly is now suing the Canadian government for $500m and demanding that Canada’s patent laws are changed. corporate capture of USA

Monbiot thinks that the US and the European Commission have been captured by the corporations they are supposed to regulate, and are pressing for investor-state dispute resolution to be included in the agreement because our courts are generally not biased or lacking independence:

“The EC seeks to replace open, accountable, sovereign courts with a closed, corrupt system riddled with conflicts of interest and arbitrary powers”.

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Political corporate alliances are also vigorously seeking to extend power in the Pacific region via the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

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