birguslatro: Birgus Latro III icon (Default)
[personal profile] birguslatro
I've no idea how I would've voted in the EU referendum if I'd been a UK resident. However, I have been thinking of late whether large, multi-country agreements (or whatever) are a good idea or not.

NZ has recently signed up to the TPP, which is a free-trade agreement between 12 Pacific-rim countries. (The signing was in NZ due to it growing out of a trade agreement signed initially between NZ and Singapore. The TPP is yet to be ratified.)

NZ has individual free-trade agreements with countries such as China and Australia. Compared with an agreement with a group of countries, an agreement between two countries is probably easier to achieve and easier to modify if needs be, or exit if that need arises. The downside is you'd end up with many different types of agreements that'd need to be dealt with on a day-to-day basis by businesses and travelers and such.

Those with network-systems expertise can probably say what's the optimum number of countries to have in a free-trade agreement given the number of countries in the world. I've a feeling though that small and nimble is probably better than large and cumbersome, with the repercussions less global when an agreement falls apart.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-07-04 02:58 pm (UTC)
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)
From: [personal profile] matgb
It depends, of course, on what your objective is short, medium and long term, but for me, the answer to

what's the optimum number of countries to have in a free-trade agreement given the number of countries in the world

is all of them. Eventually.

One of the things people get mixed up about in the free trade/common market rules for the EU is what it's actually for and how it works. One big thing is goods passporting and common accreditation. Basically, all EU countries agree the same standards for, say, toy safety (an obvious one, the CE mark is recognised in a lot more places), agree a common regularoty and inspections regime and, crucially, agree to respect each others inspectors.

Basically, if the UK or England does leave the EU, then there's a fairly high chance that English factory inspections won't be recognised, meaning goods will have to be impounded and checked for safety at customs points on the border. Same applies to everything else including, say, the dishwasher factory up the road from me.

Apparently we no longer import a huge amount of New Zealand butter and the Anchor brand is owned by a UK dairy, but the common framework means that dairy products and similar can be shipped anywhere in Europe as long as their source is subject to regular inspections, etc.

It's not the tariff barriers that make things work, it's the common standards and inspections.

I, in principle and practicality, think that's a good thing. It would be marvellous if, for example, Chinese factories were subject to the exact same rules for safety (both products and worker) as UK or NZ factories, and that we could trust the inspection regime enough to not need to check heavily on arrival at port, etc.

Ergo, the objective for me, in part, for the EU, was to set an example that other regional groups could follow, and then have all those regional groups agree common rules so that, eventually, the entire world is one common market.

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