18 May 2016

New Zealand history relevant to Brexit Debate.

The following observations from the Encyclopedia of New Zealand are relevant to the debate over whether the UK should leave or remain in the UK.
"In 1961 Britain announced that it was seeking to join the European Economic Community (EEC)... If Britain joined the EEC it would have to sign up to the [common agricultural policy], and that would mean an end to New Zealand being able to export agricultural products to Britain."
With UKs help and based on NZ support for Allies during WWII, NZ managed to negotiate access to the British markets with quotas that reduced over time. But...
"In the late 1930s Britain took more than 80% of New Zealand exports. By 1960 it took 53%, which reduced to 36% in 1970, and 5% in 2007."
Britain is not even a major trading partner of NZ any more. What the British don't seem to realise is how protectionist the EU is. It routinely erects trade barriers for those outside the EU to protect the industries within. Farming, for example, is heavily subsidised throughout the EU, while tariffs and quotas prevent other countries from outselling heavily subsidised produce. Something that cost New Zealand most of it's existing export market in the 1960s and 1970s.

The idea that if Britain leaves the EU it will automatically retain the right to free trade with Europe is idiotic. At the very least there will be protracted negotiations during which Britain will not have access to the EU markets. Of course UK is a major trading partner of the EU so trade agreements will definitely be put in place. But the EU is in a position to demand major concessions of the smaller entity.

For this we can use the model of Norway, which remains outside the EU mainly because of the issue of fishing quotas, but has to pass all the laws made by the EU and pay into the various funds. It is in almost every respect a fully paid-up member of the EU, except that it has no voice in policy making. This would not be a favourable situation for Britain.

Leaving the EU at this point would be disastrous for Britain. There is no doubt the need to reform the EU and in particular the Euro, but being outside will leave us powerless to demand or effect change.

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Keep is seemly & on-topic. Thanks.