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A thread to address a couple of perennial euromyths, that the EU can’t conclude FTAs with big economies, & that it’s protectionist. /1
World trade changed in the 2000s. Low hanging fruit had all been plucked in successive multilateral GATT & WTO trade rounds. /2
The latest round, the Doha Round, was launched in 2001 but stalled. It was getting too hard & complex to achieve multilateral agreement. /3
So WTO members started pursuing bilateral & regional deals, because these are less complicated to negotiate. The EU led the way. /4
In 2003 the EU started negotiating a “Trade & Investment Enhancement Agreement” (TIEA) with Canada, as a test case for a new kind of FTA. /5
I was one of its authors, I held the pen for the EU’s 2003 Communication which launched the process: /6
The TIEA ultimately became the CETA (Comprehensive Economic & Trade Agreement) which was finally signed in Oct 2016 - 13 years later! /7
The EU has been working on numerous other bilateral agreements during the same period, with more to come. /8
Contrary to the impression given by Europhobe Leavers, the EU is the international pace-setter for bilateral & regional FTAs. /9
Tariffs are no longer the core focus of modern FTAs. Most tariff reduction was already done in successive multilateral GATT/WTO rounds. /10
The focus of modern FTAs is on mutual recognition, investment, standards, the stuff at which the EU excels. It’s in our DNA. /11
So let’s come to tariffs. Many remain, some quite high (esp in agricultural products). Leaver agitprop paints the EU as the bad guy… /12
It isn’t. EU tariffs are generally no higher, & often lower, than competitors’ (eg US, New Zealand, Australia). /13
Wrapping up, the myth that a protectionist EU has held “global Britain” back from its free trade destiny is a lie. The opposite is true. /14
As an EU member, the UK is part of the most powerful free trade bloc in the world, forging new agreements and establishing precedents. /15
Outside the EU, the UK will be in a far weaker position to negotiate agreements with partners. It will be a taker not a maker. /16
The “global Britain” myth is a fantasy of muddled libertarian nationalists who have little real world experience of international trade. /17
It’s ironic and depressing that they’ve used this lie to take the UK out of the world’s most progressive & influential free trade bloc. /18
The EU will miss the UK and its genuinely valuable contribution to its liberal free trade agenda. But this will continue without the UK. /19
I wish I could be as confident that the UK will emerge from this process as a prosperous & influential global trader. /20
(PS - I’m not going to open the can of
worms that is mixity, just to put down a marker that as ‘trade’ agreements become increasingly /21
less trade-focused & broader in scope that introduces institutional challenges for the EU which could be seen as hampering its free /22
trade agenda - but I do not see this as grounds for any accusation of protectionism, so won’t get into it here.) /23
PPS - ironically, Brexit might actually help solve the problem with mixity, or at least move it forward. UK was one of the most litigious >
< member states at the ECJ on competence in mixed agreements; its departure might make things easier.

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