Brexiteers Davis and Johnson Abandon May’s Soft Brexit

Major Resignations in Theresa May’s Government

Over the past 24-hours two senior officials in Theresa May’s government have resigned due to differences in what kind of Brexit each seeks.

And frankly, it’ll be a blessing. Far less paint will be peeled off the walls each week at 10 Downing Street, if you catch my meaning.

Even though both David Davis and Boris Johnson were and are strong proponents of Brexit (which Prime Minister Theresa May also claims to be) governing the country becomes an impossible task when three people fight each other daily to steer the ship of state.

Every Prime Minister must tolerate some division within the party caucus to be sure. Less so, but still important is to allow a variety of views within Cabinet so that it doesn’t become a sterile place where ideas go to die. But there comes a point when too much division becomes the main issue — instead of the people’s business being the main issue.

Which is why it’s important Theresa May stuck to her guns and didn’t make any last-minute deals (of a kind that a lesser PM might have made) to keep the crew together. Not that Davis and Johnson are going anywhere as they’ll remain Conservative Party backbenchers.

Certainly, Margaret Thatcher would’ve told Davis and Johnson to ‘go fish’ some time ago and probably would have physically evicted them from the room. 😉 (You never knew with Maggie!)


Whether You Agree with Davis and Johnson or Not, this Streamlines Whatever Brexit Modality Theresa May Pursues

While some would like the strongest possible Brexit — Britain’s future will be better with a Brexit agreement that doesn’t ruin relations with the EU, one that includes some kind of reasonable free trade deal, one that allows the UK and the EU to cooperate on a wide range of issues such as, but not limited to; A common rulebook where and when feasible, the Galileo project, the ECJ (where UK courts would include, but not be limited or bound by ECJ rulings and opinions) NATO, and agreeable relations or even membership with other important European institutions.

Theresa May’s sole goal (it seems) is to get a deal with the EU. Which is a noble goal in itself.

The flip side of that is when the agreement Theresa May intends to present is so diluted that her Cabinet walks out the door. Yet, the Prime Minister may still be proven right by events yet to unfold.

It’s obvious to all but the most politically tone-deaf that no matter what agreement is presented to the EU mandarins, it is likely to be swiftly rejected. Including Theresa May’s super-diplomatic, uber-polite and overly-soft Brexit proposals.


But if That’s the Case, Why Try at All?

As an experienced bureaucrat slogging it out in the Home Office for a decade Theresa May knows something that hardcore Brexiteers don’t. And that is, those who get ‘stuck with the bill’ wind up paying many times over.

Let’s look at three scenarios, and let’s see who gets stuck with the bill:

  1. Hard Brexit faction presents an uncompromising Brexit deal to the EU: The European Union declines the deal offered and the blame is on Britain ‘for being so unreasonable’ and from that point on… every single thing that ever goes wrong in Europe, the World, and the Solar System… will be the fault of *those* unreasonable Brexiteers. And it’s not that EU people are evil, it’s just human nature to feel that way when jilted.
  2. Soft Brexit faction presents a soft agreement for signing in Brussels which is accepted by the EU: It’s seen as a ‘Win-Win’ for both sides. But the EU ‘wins’ by a slight margin and when you’ve effectively ‘dumped your partner’ sometimes it’s a good thing to let them ‘win’ a little bit. The worst that can happen in such a case is that the next UK Prime Minister will try to improve the deal and may or may not succeed in that endeavor. Likely, as time rolls on, both sides will arrive at a better agreement and both can claim credit with their respective voters for any future agreements. Not a bad scenario at all.
  3. Soft Brexit faction presents a soft agreement for signing in Brussels which *isn’t* accepted by the EU: At that point, the British can walk away from the table knowing in their hearts and with the whole world as a witness that they ‘tried their best’ to accommodate the concerns of the people in Brussels but they just couldn’t strike a deal. (A sort of ‘no fault’ divorce) And Brexit proceeds on a WTO-style basis with a flurry of à la carte agreements signed following March 29, 2019 allowing EU cars to be sold in the UK and UK airlines to operate over continental Europe, for two examples.

In scenario #1: Britain and the Hard Brexiteers get stuck with the bill for about the next century. Maybe longer. ‘Those intransigent Brits! A bloody difficult people they are!’

In scenario #2: Britain gets stuck with the larger part of the bill and in the following years must work incrementally towards the final Brexit arrangements they were originally seeking. ‘Damn, Theresa, couldn’t you do any better? Oh well, we got a Brexit of sorts, you’re forgiven.’

In scenario #3: The EU gets stuck with the bill and the world decrying EU intransigence. And Theresa May *probably* gets re-elected in a landslide.


Summary

The lesson from this story is that when the chips are down and you *must* bring home a win *always* go with the plan that is *guaranteed to work*.

Which in the real world often isn’t the most glorious, most exciting, nor the most popular plan. Unfortunately.

But when a plan works, it’s a win. And beautiful or ugly, if the plan works that’s all that matters.

Written by John Brian Shannon

Will a ‘No Deal’ Brexit Harm UK Manufacturing?

Certain pro-EU commentators paint a picture of either a catastrophic Brexit crash-out (Hard Brexit) or a ‘non-Brexit’ where the UK would retain few of the rights gained by a full Brexit but would still be chained to the responsibilities of EU membership (Soft Brexit) whether via the so-called ‘Norway’ model or the ‘Norway-plus’ model, or via any other model such as the ‘Canada’ model.

Those same commentators excitedly cite potential UK manufacturing job losses in the post-Brexit timeframe even though the UK is primarily a service based economy (80.2% in 2014 and rising) and they forget to factor-in the astonishing changes occurring every day in Britain’s manufacturing sector.


UK Manufacturing = Less Than 10% of GDP

Manufacturing in the UK accounts for less than 10% of GDP (2016) and provides jobs for 3.2 million workers (2016) but a recent PwC report says that by 2030 half of all UK manufacturing jobs could be automated. That’s less than 12-years from now. And it could happen much faster and on a much larger scale than that.

Repeat; Up to half of all UK manufacturing jobs will be lost within 12-years. It’s uncertain whether British workers are aware of these looming changes.

Economic impact of artificial intelligence on the UK economy
The economic impact of artificial intelligence on the UK economy. Image courtesy of PwC. Click on the image to view or download the PDF report.

What’s Great for UK Businesses Won’t be Great for Foreign Workers

In 2018, of the 3.1 million UK manufacturing workers (a stat that falls with each passing year as automation increases) we find that over half of manufacturing workers in the UK are citizens of other countries — primarily from eastern Europe, but also western Europe.

So, expect UK-based eastern European workers to be replaced by automation.

Increasing automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) will cause UK companies to choose between UK-born workers and eastern European workers, and it’s likely that hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions) of eastern Europeans will be returning home with plenty of UK coin in their pocket. (And why not, they earned it)

I hope you didn’t expect the UK to lay-off its own British-born workers in order to protect the jobs of eastern European-born workers as automation proceeds, did you? Would EU companies show that level of courtesy to UK workers in the European Union, were the situation reversed?

Profits for UK manufacturing companies are projected to rise significantly as automation and AI become one with the system, while UK-born manufacturing workers should find themselves at 100% employment.

What’s not to like?


UK Manufacturing Job Losses Due to Automation – Not Brexit

If you’re one of the EU elites who fear that hundreds of thousands of eastern European workers in Britain will lose their UK manufacturing jobs due to Brexit you couldn’t be more wrong.

Let’s be perfectly clear; Half of all UK manufacturing jobs will be lost to automation by 2030 — and it won’t be on account of Brexit!


Summary

The narrative that says the UK economy will be severely damaged on account of manufacturing job losses due to a Hard Brexit is a complete and utter fantasy.

Every day from now until 2030, automation and AI will replace eastern European workers, Brexit or no Brexit. Meanwhile, British-born manufacturing workers will find themselves at full employment.

It’s all good!

Written by John Brian Shannon


Related Articles:

  • How will artificial intelligence affect the UK economy? (PwC)
  • The economic impact of artificial intelligence on the UK economy (PwC)
  • What would be the cost to the UK of regulation by a foreign power and major competitor? (BrexitCentral.com)
  • Why the UK Needs a Tax on Job-Stealing Robots (kleef.asia)

Why the UK Needs a Tax on Job-Stealing Robots

Q: Why does the UK need a tax on job-stealing robots?
A: To pay Universal Credit to millions of soon-to-be-replaced workers.

And why do we need Universal Credit in one of the richest countries on the planet?

Because unemployment skyrocketed due to the recession in the 1980’s, it skyrocketed again when millions of UK jobs began to be offshored in 1990, and again when millions of immigrants arrived in Britain looking for work.

And because automation and robotics are about to change the world more than all of the above combined!


Bye Bye UK Jobs (Offshoring)

Since 1990, but beginning in earnest around 2000, UK businesses began outsourcing much of their manufacturing to Asian and non-Asian countries that offer low-cost labour.

This had an immediate and positive effect on company profits in Britain and resulted in just as immediate job losses in the UK as millions of ‘man-hours’ shifted to Asia. Consequently, the unemployment rate shot up, and eventually, many of those formerly employed people ended up on some kind of social assistance, or moved back home to Mom and Dad’s house, or they lived a precarious life staying with friends until they could land a job.

Those who didn’t find a job or who weren’t able to stay at Mom and Dad’s house, or weren’t able to mooch off their circle of friends any longer, ended up homeless; either on social assistance or not.

And as some of you already know unemployment insurance benefits only last for so long.

A sad thing about homelessness is that it causes a dramatic rise in crimes like theft, vandalism, hooliganism and other social ills as the homeless watch those fortunate enough to have a job/a home/a warm bed, etc., and resent their success. It’s not evil you’re seeing, it’s human nature.

You’d feel the same way if your company terminated your employment and by the time you got out looking for work there were millions more job applicants than jobs available.

But for UK companies, offshoring jobs scored a solid 6 out of 10 as a means to improve profit.


Enter, The Immigrant Workforce

Some UK companies decided to hire the immigrant workers that arrived on Britain’s shores by the millions and were willing to work for a lower hourly rate than native Britons.

For many companies, this was an even better solution than offshoring jobs which sometimes resulted in questionable quality or problems related to timely delivery of products that were produced offshore and then shipped to Britain.

Some British companies were able to lay-off hundreds of workers on a Friday and have their immigrant counterparts start work on the following Monday without skipping a beat. Of course, there may have been language barriers or quality control issues at first, but on the main cutting their labour costs by one-half (or more) worked wonders for profitability, if not always productivity.

For UK companies, hiring low-cost immigrant workers, probably scores around 8 out of 10 as a means to improve profit.


Rise of the Machines (Job-Stealing Robots)

In the corporate world, the quest to lower costs and increase profits never fades.

That is why cars replaced horses, ships were fitted with powerful engines instead of sails, it’s why jobs were (and still are) offshored to countries that can manufacture items at the lowest cost, and it’s why jobs were taken from British workers and given to low-cost immigrant workers in the UK.

But the big daddy of them all is just around the corner as human workers are replaced by machines.

For companies, this cost savings/quality improvement represents the greatest business opportunity to arise since the Neolithic Period when Trog first sold Grok a bag of salt he’d dug out of the ground.


Once Human Labour Becomes Redundant, Then What?

In robotized factories, labour costs are almost microscopic when compared to the other costs of doing business. Quality can improve by orders of magnitude and companies can devote even more time, money, and effort to sales and marketing to keep all those machines busy 24-hours per day, 365-days per year, without sick days, arguments with superiors, or paid holidays.

Almost any job can be done by robots, even policing can be done via millions of cameras set up around the country and monitored by small groups of people in a control room hundreds of miles away. In the case of a stolen car for example, as soon as the theft is reported to a website, the website programme can then steer the stolen vehicle to the side of the road and shut off the engine, and an automated tow truck could go out to recover the vehicle. We’re almost there now…

And robots never go on strike for better wages.

Companies that replace most of their workers with automation represent the best way yet to improve build quality, to lower costs, to operate 24-hour production runs that last 365-days of the year, and to increase profits.

Hey, who needs a large Human Resources department when only 5 employees work in a 5 million square foot factory and all executive positions are hired via a points-based website?

For UK companies, hiring robots scores a perfect 10 out of 10 as a means to improve profit.


Almost HALF of all U.S. Jobs Lost to Automation by 2033 (PwC Report)

This is a lot closer to happening than most people think.

“A 2017 report from PricewaterhouseCooper predicted that 30 percent of jobs across the nation will be automated in the next 15 years.

Predictions for outside of the U.K. aren’t any better. In the U.S., job loss estimates range from 33 percent of jobs by 2030 to 47 percent of jobs by 2033. Around 137 million workers in Southeast Asia could lose their jobs to automation within the same period.” — Futurism.com


Shall We Prepare For That Eventuality or Wait for Something Magical to Happen?

Waiting until then to do something about it isn’t responsible leadership. Neither is hoping that something magical will occur to solve our self-made problems.

If the 1% own all the automated factories and services but nobody except the kids of the 1%’ers have jobs, to whom will those companies sell their goods?

As more and more people are replaced by machines and as their unemployment insurance runs out and as fewer and fewer humans are required to operate a company, more and more people will find themselves on Universal Credit in the UK — so we better start NOW to make it sustainable!

The benefits for companies to automate are such that automation is coming no matter what, therefore, taxing job-stealing robots to support people on Universal Credit is the only relevant option.

Yes, the Protestant work ethic; A truly great thing.

But if machines are doing all the work, humans will become largely redundant insofar as work is concerned and companies will still need people to purchase their wares — otherwise what’s the point of all that automation?


Avoiding a Societal Crash Bigger Than the 1929 Stock Market Implosion

It’s almost too late to address this looming crash. But if politicians got energized this societal catastrophe could be managed, if not quite averted.

Automation WILL happen, it’s not something that can be ignored. Change is coming. And we’d better be ready.

For now, it’s a relatively simple fix;

Theresa May’s government needs to increase Universal Credit payments to (the anti-poverty standard metric of) £1088 per month, to include full medical and dental coverage, and provide full prescription medicine coverage — with no barriers to enter the Universal Credit system other than applicants must be adults who reside in the UK and earn less than £1088 per month.

This monthly amount and the healthcare benefits that go along with Universal Credit should also automatically apply to the country’s senior citizens to ‘top-up’ their pension to that amount, if they report less than £13,056 (from all sources) on their annual tax return.

In this way, every automated vegetable farm can sell its produce, every automated dairy can sell its milk, every rancher can raise their livestock, and every automated delivery company can get paid for their investment in all that amazing technology, because, well, at the end of the day, people need to eat and producers need to get paid.

And the UK can pay for it all without changing the existing tax regime other than adding a 5% tax on the daily output of every robot and automated system in the country.

Will companies go for it? You know they will.


How to Pay For It

Once people see they can exist without starving to death courtesy of their £1088 per month+benefits, people may decide they can earn a (taxable) living from their own home-based business — hand-painting landscapes on canvas, or running (taxable) Airbnb accommodations from their home, or becoming a (taxpaying) tour guide. Who knows. But artists, lodgers, public speakers, or those who create anything desirable or those who sing or play a musical instrument (well) may become well-rewarded for their unique and creative talents and pay taxes once again.

A 5% tax on robots and other automation devices or systems that work 24-hours per day, 7-days per week, 365-days per year without labour strife, without complicated accounting, without employer contributions to pension plans etc., without sick days and so much more — or pay a number of humans to fulfill that task?

It’s really a no-brainer. Humans can’t begin to compete with automation. What matters is keeping all those consumers alive and purchasing which after all, is what makes the economy function.

Companies will make so much more profit they won’t mind paying a 5% tax on the daily output of every robot and other automated device. Quality will improve, production and productivity will go through the roof, and companies and countries that get on it first will find the largest possible benefit.

Here’s to automation and to artistic endeavors!

Written by John Brian Shannon


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Brexit Committee says ‘Not Enough Time to Execute Brexit’ by Target Date

“The Brexit Committee has warned that even under the most optimistic scenario, there may not be enough time to complete all necessary work before the UK is scheduled to leave the EU. The Brexit Committee report also calls for an extension to the exit timetable if a deal has not been finalised.”The Express


What *Have* They Been Doing?

Two years on from the June 2016 Brexit referendum and with almost one more year to go before the stated target date of March 29, 2019 and the Brexit Committee says that “even under the most optimistic scenario, there may not be enough time to complete all the necessary work before the UK is scheduled to leave the EU.”

That’s the definition of ‘Low Ambition‘ right there.

Whether the fault lies in Brussels or at 10 Downing, or even because of the infighting that happens within the Conservative Party itself, governments need to remember that the people have spoken (and quite apart from that) sentiment continues to grow among the UK voting public for the government to ‘just get on with it’.

Even people who voted Remain now think the best thing for the country is for a quick and streamlined Brexit agreement — one that is fair to citizens and industry on both sides of the English Channel.

If two years and nine months isn’t enough time to get it done, what is?

Do the politicians in London and Brussels think they have carte blanche to spend the rest of the decade and part of the next to arrange a suitable Brexit deal? If so, that’s very telling… and not in a good way.

Citizens on both sides of Brexit need to know and industry needs to know what to expect so they can prepare for life after Brexit. And they needed to know a year ago.


How Hard Can it Be?

Most of the existing EU laws will simply continue unchanged following Brexit, therefore, more will stay the same than will change.


FISHERIES

It was originally thought that the UK would be leaving The Common Fisheries Agreement by March 29, 2019, or at the latest, by July 2019.

Therefore the UK had been negotiating with the EU in good faith so they could make some basic decisions about how to manage UK fisheries after Brexit. Micheal Gove is surely an able enough minister to easily handle it, yet, the EU indicated that the Common Fisheries Agreement will remain in place until 2020 and there will be no negotiation about it. And that was the end of that.

Read this important article about UK fisheries policy between March 29, 2019 and January 1, 2021. Michael Gove shares fishing industry ‘disappointment’

Actually, the EU might’ve done the UK a favour by sidelining fisheries policy until after Brexit. Imagine that!

As off-putting as that sounds, it dramatically lightens the load of UK government negotiators because it’s one less sector that needs to be debated with EU negotiating teams. All of which should have conspired to put both the UK and EU six months *ahead* of schedule on the Brexit negotiation timeline!

So we can’t blame Brexit delays on Micheal Gove, the Common Fisheries agreement, or the EU for delays to that timeline.


DEFENCE

Both the UK and EU will remain members of NATO post-Brexit and as the UK already operates its own defence infrastructure there isn’t much change expected there.

Apart from arranging the return of any non-NATO-dedicated Royal Air Force jets presently in EU countries, or removing Royal Navy ships from EU waters (unless there by invitation of an EU country or while taking part in a NATO exercise) there isn’t much for Gavin Williamson the Secretary of State for Defence of the United Kingdom to handle for this part of Brexit. A few phone calls before the Brexit date should cover it.

So we can’t blame the lack of progress on Gavin Williamson or his EU defence counterparts for agreements not reached in time for Brexit.


CUSTOMS and SINGLE MARKET

Thus far, the EU seemed to be in denial that the UK was actually leaving the bloc, so quite logically from their point of view; Why would they want to entertain UK negotiations allowing the UK to leave the customs agreement and the EU’s single market architectures?

But now that the UK Parliament have voted in favour of the EU Withdrawal Bill you’d think the EU would accept the UK is leaving the bloc and that it is time to begin crafting an agreement setting the dates and terms to allow Britain to leave both the Customs Union and the Single Market.

But since the Withdrawal Bill passed last week, some in the EU suddenly began saying that negotiations with the UK can’t continue because the UK’s ruling Conservative party is ‘deeply divided’ and that ‘the EU can’t be certain who it is dealing with’ — yet, the UK government easily passed the EU Withdrawal Bill which it said it would do all along.

Full marks here to Prime Minister Theresa May for shepherding this bill through and making it look easy. Brilliant!

Read this important article about: How MP’s voted on the EU Withdrawal Bill amendments

Until the Withdrawal Bill was signed into law, any Brexit timeline delays were the fault of UK Conservative Party MP’s and the EU bore no particular blame for its lack of enthusiasm regarding the furtherance of Brexit negotiations.

However, now that the bill has been made into law, negotiations must begin in earnest.


FREE TRADE BETWEEN THE UK and THE EU POST-BREXIT

Almost everything that applies to the delays in the customs and single market negotiations (see above) applies here too.

To reiterate: Until the Withdrawal Bill was signed into UK law, delays to the negotiation timeline are to be blamed on the UK side and not on the EU side for the simple reason that until the UK side got serious about Brexit, why would the EU get serious about it?

Fortunately, and better late than never, PM Theresa May got the job done and now things must advance in the interests of industry and citizens on both sides of the Channel.

Not that the UK can suddenly afford to make Brexit ‘the EU’s emergency’ as the UK pursued the Withdrawal Bill in a most leisurely fashion over the past 32 months.

“A lack of planning on your part doesn’t necessarily constitute an emergency on my part.”

Yet because trading arrangements will benefit business on both sides of the Channel things must now move smartly along or delays will hurt business on both sides.

I wouldn’t want to be the German Chancellor or the British Prime Minister (for example) who failed to get a trade agreement ready in time for Brexit, or the leader who failed to make the necessary modifications to their respective departments to allow trade to continue uninterrupted.


IMMIGRATION and FREE MOVEMENT FOLLOWING BREXIT

It looks like this is a non-negotiable for the UK government. Too many British citizens spoke too loudly and too clearly for any UK Prime Minister to dare overrule their wishes.

Each EU citizen wishing to remain in the UK after Brexit will pay a nominal annual fee (about the price of a passport) and will be required to provide an up-to-date address and telephone number for the Home Office. Simple enough.

EU citizens wanting to move to the UK after Brexit will face the same requirements as EU citizens who’ve elected to stay on in Britain.

Non-EU citizens can probably expect about the same, although emigrating to the UK *after* Brexit will be much easier if you’re an EU citizen or Commonwealth citizen.


Now that the EU Withdrawal Bill Has Finally Passed It’s Time to Lift Those Anchors!

For industry, change is always negative but still doable. But late changes are lethal to business on both sides.

And UK leaders and EU27 leaders must remember that!

Industry needs clear and timely regulations (with a long lead time) that must rank higher than the ideological differences between the heads of European states (including the UK) higher than the (occasional) personality conflicts between politicians, and must always rank above the partisan politics within a country.

From the day the Withdrawal Bill was finally signed into law, every day must now count, be counted, and be accountable — or the UK and the EU27 will be racing with ‘their anchors still in the water’ against every other ‘ship of state’ in the world.

And that’s not how you win races, whether nautical or economic.

Written by John Brian Shannon

The Western Rules-Based Order is Collapsing. Now What?

Allow me to make a prediction.

Five years from now, the United States will have left NATO, NORAD, NAFTA, the UN, the WTO, the IMF, the World Bank, and every other multilateral organization and trade agreement on the planet.

And there’s a simple reason for it; U.S. President Donald Trump feels that every organization to which his country belongs has ‘taken advantage of the United States’ for decades and the only way to ‘stop the hemorrhaging’ is to quit all those institutions — perhaps forever.

Even if the U.S. decides to retain its UN membership for a time, my point will have been made.

Perhaps the Trump administration will explain its position in an ongoing conversation at the United Nations as to why it’s leaving the other institutions first and then quit the United Nations body last as a final snub to the world community.

Although these undertakings haven’t yet come to fruition, signs are forming that President Trump and his supporters may go the entire distance in separating the United States from the Rest of the World — and that’s especially true if he receives a second ‘mandate’ via the 2018 U.S. midterm elections and a third mandate courtesy of American voters in 2020.


On the Way Out the Door, Grab Everything You Can!

Enroute to leaving every multilateral organization and trade agreement on the planet, Donald Trump the negotiator may tell his people to extract every possible concession, from every possible country, every step of the way.

If you think he won’t… sorry, you’re laughably naive.

Remember, Donald Trump thinks that every country in the world takes advantage of American largesse every day of the year! A team of Harvard lawyers couldn’t convince him otherwise. Therefore, why would he want to stay in any of those political or free trade agreements?

For Mr. Trump, interim negotiations seem nothing more than the necessary steps toward his goal of quitting those institutions completely.


The U.S. Midterm Elections Will Accelerate or Decelerate Trump’s Plans

The U.S. midterm election results will set the course for the next two years as all 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate will be contested and if the Republicans win big, expect Trump’s isolationist plans to accelerate accordingly.

If the Trump team does well, every country that trades with the United States better have a solid ‘Plan B’ ready to implement the day following the U.S. midterm election. A year later just won’t cut it. This President moves fast.

For G7 and G20 countries, this means ramping-up trade with each other in an attempt to replace the great American marketplace where billions of dollars of foreign goods are purchased every day.

For developing countries, not much will change as most of them have only tiny trade links with the United States.


What Can G7 and G20 Countries Do?

Having failed to grasp the full extent of the Trump determination to pull back from the rest of the world, some countries seem uncertain about what to do next, while others think it will simply ‘blow over’ and business will soon return to normal.

But in Donald’s world, if you’re willing to sign an actual trade deal with his country he then feels he’s left too much money on the table and we’re right back to where we started — the world is taking advantage of the United States and America must never sign such an agreement!

Countries that run large trade surpluses with the United States may start to notice curtailed trade with America, therefore every country must plan for changes in that trading relationship, because, like the song says, ‘The times, they are a changin’ and it’s no fun being stuck with tens of billions of dollars of stuff that you can’t export’ — because U.S. tariffs have made your goods too expensive or the U.S. border is closed to your exports.

For countries with a less than $10 billion trade surplus with the United States, you’re probably pretty safe (for now) unless you start waving a red flag at the Commander in Chief. But if you’re a country that runs double-digit or triple-digit trade surpluses with the Americans, it’s officially time to panic.

2018 G7 Summit Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada
Top ten countries that operated a large trade surplus with the U.S.A in 2017 | NOTE: Does not include services | Data courtesy of the U.S. Commerce Dept | Image courtesy of FORTUNE

Strengthen non-U.S. Trading Relationships Now

Perhaps using the recently-signed CETA deal between Canada and the EU as a template, G20 countries could begin to strengthen their trading relationships with each other to the extent that they could survive America severely curtailing their trade. (If it comes to that)

‘Surely that’s an unreachable goal’ some might say, but even if countries miss the ‘unreachable goal’ by 50%, they’re still better off compared to not making the attempt.

Even if it takes the Trump team five years to wrestle trade deficits down to a manageable level (think; $10 billion/yr per country) and even if it takes ten long years for countries to find replacement markets for much of the goods and services they presently sell to the U.S., they’ll still be glad they invested the time and effort.

Countries with double-digit or triple-digit trade surpluses with America that get ahead of the curve are more likely to survive it better, while countries that don’t diversify may find themselves neck-deep in their own exports.

Final thought? As the United States pulls back from the world, countries that double-down on building their Commonwealth/EU/BRICS trade links will rejoice.

Written by John Brian Shannon | Reposted from JohnBrianShannon.com