Wednesday, March 06, 2002

Trade wars and us

So what about this trade war that Bush seems intent on launching?

The first thing that should be noted is that this is a poke in the eye for all believers in the "Anglosphere", the belief that the English speaking nations share a community of interest. What happened to British, Australian or New Zealand steel makers? Any exemptions? Nope.

Anyway, the Anglosphere is not on the table at the moment - even if it does distract otherwise promising conservative thinkers. What is on the table, indeed seems to be the only option on the menu, is the idea that it is in our long term interests to subliminate all our interests in a bid to cosy up with America - in the idea that America would "remember her friends".

Well chaps, don't they seem to be a tad forgetful?

Anyway what should we do now that perfidious Washington has acted?

Firstly if we really are free traders, we should simply ignore this. Free trade was never really much of a boon for producers anyway, it's the wider choice that reaches consumers (leading to higher quality and lower prices) that's the boon. Is the US tarrif going to change this for the British? No. In fact in the short term it should be a boon to us as some of the steel that can't be sold in America will come to us at cheaper rates. This will mean cheaper cars and buildings. Sure, America's hurting herself, but that's her problem, not ours.

So no trade wars.

Another temptation that we shouldn't give in to is rushing into Europe's embrace. If we were not members of the European Union would the Steel industry be in better or worse shape? Think pollution directives, health and safety regulations and employee rights. The European Union has done far more to bludgeon industry of all weights than this shortsighted and hopefully temporary tarrif.


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