France vs. UK: Battle of the Fishing Boats

Fishing boats from France and the UK clash in international waters off the French coast

While my head is with the British fishermen attacked yesterday for legally scraping for scallops in international waters, my heart is with the French fishermen who illegally attacked the British fishing boats.

It seems the government of France passed a law that only French fishers must obey, but those French fishermen and fisherwomen were upset not at their own government, but at the British fishers who were merely exercising their legal right to harvest scallops in international waters — and chose to throw large stones at the British boats and crews (breaking some windows in the UK fishing boats) and (dangerously) shot flares across the decks of a British fishing vessel.

It needs to be said again, that the British fishers were operating legally in international waters and following all EU and UK laws.

French law has only the power to restrict French scallop fishermen and fisherwomen — and the actions of the French crews aren’t acceptable in a civilized world.

If French fishers have a problem with French law… they need to take it up with the government of France. Full Stop! (Arrêt complet!)


Yet Another Reason to Exit the EU and the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP)

If UK fishers are expected to follow all relevant EU laws (and they do) but French fishermen aren’t expected to follow all relevant EU laws (and they don’t — that’s now proven by these latest acts of violence and intimidation) how is that fair to the British?

Fishing in UK Waters

When EU and UK fishers operate in British waters they must follow all relevant EU and UK laws even if they must toss millions of tonnes of dead fish overboard every year — because under EU law — if the fish are not of a certain size they must be thrown back (dead or alive) into the water. Which has a devastating effect on the UK fishery and the larger North Sea fishery. How could it not?

And French (or other EU boats) are never attacked by UK fishermen in international waters nor in UK waters…

Fishing in International Waters

Yet for some reason, fishermen from France feel they have the right to threaten and assault UK fishers and damage British fishing vessels that are operating legally in international waters.

That’s a stark difference in mindsets between UK fishers and French fishers…

And it’s called ‘entitlement’.

French fishers feel they can assault UK fishers because they feel ‘entitled’ to do so — even though the UK boats were operating in international waters and were following all relevant fishing laws of the EU and the UK.

It’s certainly not the fault of UK fishers that the French government banned French fishers from scallop fishing from May 15 to October 15!

Feelings of ‘entitlement’ by French fishermen and fisherwomen is perhaps symptomatic of a larger problem throughout the European Union; EU citizens feel ‘entitled’ while UK citizens feel they themselves must always follow the law. See the difference in mindsets?

Perhaps it’s just one of many reasons that the first time Britons got a chance to vote on EU membership they voted to Leave… but I’m sure that reasoning (causality?) was lost on those French fishermen during the heated exchange at sea.

Let’s hope the UK fishers take the French fishers/vandals to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and that damages are awarded to the innocent UK fishers. If not, we’ll know that the EU doesn’t practice what it preaches…

Written by John Brian Shannon

Image credit: BBC


Read another article about EU / UK relations: Getting the EU to the Brexit Negotiating Table

Is There Enough Demand ‘Out There’ to Float a post-Brexit UK Economy?

Excerpt from Bloomberg News: “Chinese internet users have crossed the 800 million mark for the first time ever as of June 2018, according to the 42nd China Statistical Report on the Internet Development issued by China Internet Network Information Center. With 802 million internet users, China’s user-base is larger than the combined populations for Japan, Russia, Mexico and the U.S., according to International Monetary Fund data.”

Data from the China Internet Network Information Center shows a 30 million internet user jump during the first half of 2018 alone

Is There Enough Demand to Float a post-Brexit UK Economy?
Some Britons wonder if there are enough business opportunities ‘out there’ in the wider world for the UK to thrive and prosper, post-Brexit.

As the graphic above shows, there are more internet users in China than there are citizens in all of the following countries combined: Japan, Russia, Mexico and the United States.

With internet use in China alone growing at an annual rate greater than the entire population of the United Kingdom you’d think that even the most inept exporters in the world would be lining up to trade with the huge moneypot called China.

Yet, because China isn’t selling itself as a huge marketplace for the world’s exporters and because Brexiteers haven’t ventured to research this part of the Brexit equation, it’s left to Bloomberg News (and me) to inform you of these astonishing developments.

Jacob Rees-Mogg’s European Research Group is a fine organization devoted to fleshing-out the political intricacies of Brexit, trade with the EU in the post-Brexit timeframe, and other Eurocentric matters. Yet, when we view charts like the one above it becomes startlingly clear that an Asian Research Group is needed to fully inform us about politics and trade with Asia in the post-Brexit era.


For example: How many Jaguar cars have been sold in the EU over the past 12 months?

And whatever that number is, it will be a static number for the simple reason that only so many EU citizens can afford a Jaguar motorcar and every one of them simply phones the local Jaguar dealership to order the Jag of their dreams and the car is delivered to their home a few days later.

Yet, I can only surmise that *isn’t* the case in China…


How many Jaguars *aren’t* being sold in China

How many Jaguar cars and SUV’s aren’t being sold in Asia because nobody bothered to research the full potential of the Asian market, or if they have, why aren’t Jaguar building three more factories in the UK to meet the demand of the rapidly growing Chinese middle class?

If internet users in China alone have risen from 22.5 million in year 2000 to 802 million partway through 2018, that demonstrates astonishing growth in their middle class. And if those people are ordering goods and services on the internet because their disposable income is rising fast, why isn’t there an entire department of HM government devoted to helping UK companies to get those online orders instead of just standing idly by and allowing other countries to snap up that business?

By 2030, there will be 1.6 billion internet users in China. How many Jaguar sales will have been lost by then?


It’s Not Only Cars…

Millions of pounds sterling are being lost every month since year 2000 because nobody in the UK government was put in charge of this.

Heads should roll over this shameful ‘oversight’ and not only in the government.

Heads also in the Bank of England, London School of Economics, London Stock Exchange and other organizations need to stop whatever they’re doing right this minute and phone whomever it is that can quickly address this stunning oversight.

Driving along the M4 on your way to the LSE right now? Have your driver pull the car over — you’ve got an important call to make — one that’s 18-years overdue.

With the right stewardship of the country, any good or service the UK produces should have seen the same kind of sales increases as the number of Chinese internet users since 2000. Disposable income is disposable income — and it’s better that UK business gets that disposable income rather than businesses from some other country.

From which, I can only assume that there *hasn’t* been proper stewardship of the UK economy since year 2000.

It goes without saying that nobody knew for certain how the internet was going to grow back in the early 2000’s, therefore, policymakers of that era are largely free of blame. But as each subsequent year passed, this should’ve been addressed with increasing urgency. Certainly, everyone on planet Earth knew by 2005 that the Internet of Things (IoT) was going to be a major part of our civilization in a few short years.

But the silence especially in the UK has been deafening.

“The global IoT market will grow from $157B in 2016 to $457B by 2020, attaining a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 28.5%.” — Forbes


Forget About Cars for a Moment – and Think About Everything Else the UK Produces

As noted earlier, it’s not all about the UK-built cars that aren’t being exported to Asia in huge numbers.

Everything that the UK produces or manufactures in a year could be sold to China and the lot of it wouldn’t register a tiny blip on the Chinese financial charts as demand in the country is massive and it continues to grow at a geometric rate.

If the UK tripled its entire annual GDP in goods, services and produce and then shipped all of it to China, it still wouldn’t produce a blip on the charts. And China continues to grow its economy at (artificially held to lower than) double-digit growth rates.

“GDP Annual Growth Rate in China averaged 9.61 percent from 1989 until 2018, reaching an all time high of 15.40 percent in the first quarter of 1993 and a record low of 3.80 percent in the fourth quarter of 1990.” — Trading Economics

Asia is the land of opportunity for all who have eyes to see and ears to hear. There isn’t a reason good enough for the UK government or British business to ignore it one more day.

Written by John Brian Shannon | Reposted from LetterToBritain.com


As Brexit Negotiations Lag: Are Europeans Missing Opportunities Bigger Than the Sky? (kleef.asia)

What Would a WTO Brexit Look Like?

Assuming European politicians can’t get their act together enough to craft a reasonable Brexit deal that works for both sides by March 29, 2019 Europe will be faced with Brexit on WTO terms which is known colloquially as a ‘Hard Brexit’ where the UK would leave the European Single Market and Common Market mechanisms and other EU agreements and institutions without any subsequent deal in place.

Without further ado, and without boring you with statistics, let’s look at how a Hard Brexit would play-out in the months and years following a WTO-style Brexit.


Will There Be Famine in the Land?

Of all of the dubious claims by the Project Fear campaigners (and they’ve made many!) this must rank in first place.

No. There won’t be famine in the UK on account of Hard Brexit. However, you may notice your favorite brand of cheese may be unavailable for a time and you may find your prescription medications come from UK pharmaceutical companies or American pharmas instead of from continental Europe.

Saying the following words out loud will do you good, dear Britons — so repeat after me;

“The United States of America has come to Britain’s rescue in times past and will do so again in its hour of need.”

Regarding agriculture; The United States agricultural belt is unimaginably massive and its farmers and ranchers are just waiting to fulfill the UK’s orders. There are fields of crops in the United States larger than the entire United Kingdom. It takes 3-hours to overfly them in a jet aircraft flying at 500 miles per hour.

Regarding ranching; There are 93.5 million cattle in the United States (2017) and that number continues to rise at a little better than 1% per year, and significant capacity exists to raise it over a relatively short period of time.

Similar agricultural capacity is available in Canada for grains, corn, soybean, and other crops, and Canada boasts 4.6 million cattle at present (2018) and Canada has more arable land than the United States allowing it to exceed even the mighty U.S. in this regard if sufficient firm orders were placed.

To answer the question: “Where’s the beef?” It’s in the United States and Canada… Just pick up the phone and call us! North American farmers and ranchers would love to take your money — instead of the EU taking your money.

Britons might find their food costs plummet as the huge economies of scale that typify North American food production and the favorable growing conditions combine to produce bumper-crop after bumper-crop which lead inevitably to lower food prices.

Countries of origin for UK food consumption
Image courtesy of gov.uk | Figure 1: Origins of food consumed in the UK in 2016 — Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Agriculture in the United Kingdom data sets, Chapter 14 – the food chain (2017)

Aren’t All American Crops GMO?

Genetically Modified Organisms or GMO crops are grown on every continent, including Europe, which has about the same number of GMO crops as America.

Some Europeans fear that all crops grown in the United States are GMO crops, but except in the case of corn that isn’t true. All corn, no matter where it is grown in the world is GMO and that’s been true for a few decades now. Corn (and maize, which is a type of rough corn that is fed to cattle over the winter months) aren’t commercially viable crops unless the GMO component is added.

Some crops like ‘Yukon Gold’ potatoes, Canola (a seed grain) and every apple sold on the planet have been GMO for many decades.

To alleviate concerns about GMO foods being sold in the UK, Theresa May’s government could simply legislate that any produce or meat that *isn’t* GMO must be identified as non-GMO for UK consumers.

Explainer: Forcing producers to put GMO labels on their produce (if theirs is indeed a GMO variant) is seen as a negative by GMO food producers. But giving non-GMO farmers the right to advertise “Non-GMO produce” or “Non-GMO meat” on their labels would be seen as a positive for their non-GMO produce and meat.

See how easy it is?

Not only won’t there be famine in the land, UK consumers will enjoy a completely new supply chain from which to choose and sufficient labelling for them to make the best choices for their families.


What if the EU Decides to Punish the UK for Leaving?

If the EU wanted to drive the UK directly into America’s arms… the EU would ensure a Hard Brexit and not allow EU goods or produce to be shipped to the UK following Brexit, nor would it allow UK goods or produce to be sold into the EU following Brexit.

If that’s the EU plan, bring it on! Because that plan has a 100% chance of success should the EU choose to make it happen.

And Americans and Canadians are just waiting… “Please, oh God, please, cause the EU to drive the UK into our ever-loving arms!” said every North American farmer, rancher and manufacturer.

To say nothing about the even more fervent prayers being said by North American auto manufacturers in Detroit, U.S.A. and in Windsor, Canada.

For Britain, a WTO Brexit simply means changing suppliers — with a zero-tariff trade deal in effect with North America — combined with the opportunity to sell UK goods into the vast North American market.

The ball, as they say… is in your court, European Union!


Bonus Video

View the video where HM North American Trade Commissioner is interviewed by Bloomberg Television on March 26, 2018.

Clicking on the image takes you direct to the relevant Bloomberg webpage.

Brexit on WTO rules
Antony Phillipson, HM Trade Commissioner for North America on Bloomberg TV.

Written by John Brian Shannon | Reposted from LetterToBritain.com

As Brexit Negotiations Lag: Are Europeans Missing Opportunities as Big as the Sky?

Only 221 days to go until the official Brexit date of March 29, 2019, and only microscopic progress has been made on crafting a ‘Win-Win’ divorce deal.

Such is the state of affairs that exists (1) within the UK, (2) within the EU, and (3) between the two countries. It is to weep.

But whether the United Kingdom or the European Union are ready for Brexit or not, the Brexit baby will be born — therefore, it’s imperative that both sides stop posturing and get on with creating a deal that works for citizens and industry on both sides of the English Channel.


What Else Is There Besides Brexit?

Although it may be difficult for Europeans to see, there are bigger issues in the world than Brexit which is why a deal needs to get done properly and quickly as there are other, more pressing, and more important matters for European politicians to attend to.

If we liken the geopolitical world to an auto race (a Formula One race) while all the other teams are busy prepping for the race and getting to their startup positions, the UK and the EU have found a muddy part of the infield and are playing ‘bumper cars’ with each other like a couple of overly-exuberant teenagers — getting mud all over their sponsor’s brand names and on their respective drivers’ goggles, they’re damaging the tires and composite body of their race cars, and they’re burning up precious fuel reserved for racing against the ‘big boy teams’ of America, China, Japan, India, Brazil and others.

Either the UK and the EU governments already have a deal and just haven’t announced it to the public, or they don’t realize that other more important geopolitical matters will soon bypass the ‘tempest in a teapot’ happening in Europe.

New and important things sometimes start small. Don’t believe it?

The first streetlights were installed in Cleveland, Ohio in 1879 when electric lights (Brush arc lamps) were placed along major roadways. Thomas Edison (who spent most of his day napping in his workshop only to become extremely productive afterward) was a person who toiled away for years inventing and designing a reliable light bulb, manufacturing one bulb at a time. Yet, the lighting industry in its entirety is a multi-trillion dollar business in our day.

George Eastman, right under everyone’s noses created a company in 1888 (Kodak) that eventually made so much money they weren’t always able to count it. New machines had to be built (computers) to keep track of the astronomical number of transactions happening all over the world, every minute of every day. Over the decades Kodak contributed more than a trillion dollars to the global economy and made the company and its shareholders unbelievably wealthy. Kodak’s patents and knowledge are still with us today.

The Wright Brothers ultralight aircraft first flew on December 17, 1903 near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. At that time, the two men were thought of as odd, even eccentric people with fantastical ideas wasting precious days that could’ve been better spent. Yet, look at what their great invention has created — a multi-trillion dollar civilian airline industry and military aircraft industry.

From tiny beginnings, the first Model T automobile rolled off the assembly line on October 1, 1908 and see the changes the auto industry has brought to the world. Henry Ford is widely credited with the creation of the American middle class, something that propelled America far ahead of its competitors. Today, the world’s auto industry is also a multi-trillion dollar business, yet everyone thought old Henry was a bit of a dreamer.

King George VI united the modern Commonwealth of Nations under the banner, “Leaders agree that Commonwealth members are free and equal members of the Commonwealth of Nations, freely co-operating in the pursuit of peace, liberty and progress.” The Commonwealth now have 53 members with a total population of over 2.5 billion citizens and ranks near the United States, China, or Japan in GDP and PPP.

Steve Jobs created a company that in relatively few years became a trillion-dollar company, designing a computer operating system that was ahead of his competitors, and designed an astonishing number of world-class products, services and apps that allowed users capabilities they’d never imagined.

All of these great advances slipped completely under the radar at the time of their creation. Governments, industry, and citizens were completely oblivious as to what would follow.

The first flight at Kitty Hawk was seen as a sort of carnival ride item that made you wish you’d live long enough to see it come to your hometown, while Henry Ford famously said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Yes, Henry was that far ahead of his contemporaries.

The point is, all these advances and others haven’t stopped at any time during the 20th century — technological advances are happening right now, right under our noses, just as in the time of Henry Ford — and the next Steve Jobs or Henry Ford aren’t going to stop and wait a few years for the UK and the EU to get their Brexit act together.

For all we know, the next trillion-dollar company or multi-trillion dollar industry might be deciding (this week!) where to set-up their ground-breaking operation and such entrepreneurs are likely to avoid regions of the world where economic instability appears or where regulations aren’t finalized. Dragging-out Brexit = European instability.

It’s not against the UK or the EU… it’s against both.

Both will suffer if a stabilized economy and a finalized regulatory environment are seen to be ‘aspirational’ — which is a word entrepreneurs sometimes encounter in developing nations.


Missed Opportunities?

UK and EU leaders should rethink their negotiating ‘strategy’ and factor-in the potential for losing the next start-up, disruptive technology, or multi-trillion dollar industry to a different region of the world, whenever they next meet to discuss Brexit.

Imagine if Europe would’ve ‘had it’s act together’ in previous decades… perhaps Thomas Edison, George Eastman, Orville and Wilbur Wright, Henry Ford or Steve Jobs would’ve started their businesses in Europe instead of America.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it, negotiators.

With financing and instant communications available almost everywhere, the global playing field has levelled since the 19th century, so ‘ease of doing business’ and ‘a transparent regulatory environment’ can make all the difference when today’s entrepreneurs meet to choose a location for the next trillion-dollar business.

We’ll soon know if any of this registers with British and European leaders…


Written by John Brian Shannon | Reposted from LetterToBritain.com

Brexit: The Summer of Concession

In the land of Brexit some has been lost while much has been gained in this, the summer of concession.

Thus far, UK Prime Minister Theresa May has passed the EU Withdrawal Bill, held a firm but fair meeting at Chequers where she stopped prevaricating and demanded a ‘For’ or ‘Against’ decision from her Cabinet on her Chequers Brexit plan — which resulted in the day-after resignations of two of her most powerful ministers and four others — and she has since met European officials where she received cool support for her super-diplomatic, uber-polite and overly soft Brexit proposal.


How Very British!

In some ways those recently resigned MP’s (who will now sit as Conservative backbenchers) might as well be sitting on the opposition side because they possess deep knowledge of May’s inner circle and have the inside scoop on how Brexit is to proceed.

Yet, it was a polite affair with Boris Johnson making a gentle resignation speech in the House of Commons while still urging the Prime Minister to pursue the kind of Brexit UK citizens want. Boris Johnson never looked so principled or gentlemanly in his life (struggling to sound almost deferential to May) and good on him for doing so. Of course emotions were high, and no doubt, he was extremely disappointed that (in his mind) the Chequers Brexit plan surrendered some amount of UK sovereignty to the EU politburo. Five stars for Boris.

David Davis, who is more of a moderate Brexiteer than Boris, tried hard to contain his deep disappointment and published a polite and informative resignation letter outlining his position. As Brexit Secretary (but Brexit-lite when compared to Boris Johnson or Jacob Rees-Mogg, for example) it appears he thought he could convince May to move to a slightly more robust Brexit plan only to have his hopes dashed. If she was going to be swayed by anyone it would’ve been him. We understand his disappointment too, but that’s politics. Well done, David Davis!

The problem with forcing Cabinet members to declare support or non-support of her Chequers Brexit plan is that she has lost some of them who now sit as backbenchers and are free to hold the government to account.

Theresa May imagines herself to be an experienced operator but if they choose to make her look bad, they could. Therefore, she should not be looking for a fight with them nor should the Prime Minister default to her previous ‘slapping-down’ behaviors or she will get tossed around in a 30-month-long-storm completely of her own making. (Approx. 9 months to go until the official Brexit date of March 29, 2019 plus the 21-month implementation period, equals 30 months of potential hell for Theresa May if she handles her former Cabinet ministers harshly)

Even with all of that said, it’s better to head into the final Brexit stage with a unified team who are fully committed to her overly soft Brexit plan instead of a team that’s pursuing several different Brexit versions at once.

Now that May has asserted herself she seems to be gathering respect from all sides, resignations notwithstanding. Since Chequers, she’s twice the Prime Minister than when she first took the job. Theresa May marque une victoire!


Notes on Theresa May’s Chequers Brexit Plan

  1. The Prime Minister’s plan suggests a ‘common rule book’ with the EU so that trade in goods and agricultural products won’t be impeded by conflicting sets of rules. ‘Red tape is the eternal productivity killer and the less of it the better’ said every business person ever. Of course, adopting EU standards could make it more difficult to export UK goods to non-EU countries with their different standards, or so the argument goes. Yet, every other country seems to master this, so why not Britain?
  2. The Chequers plan suggests a common rule book on state aid for industry, and harmonized environmental and climate-change standards, social policy parity, and protection for employees and consumers.
  3. Formerly one of the PM’s “red lines” was the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) which will end after Brexit although UK courts would consider ECJ rulings and/or even consult with the ECJ in certain cases. Which seems a wise idea for any country to consider.
  4. An FCA (a Facilitated Customs Agreement) where the UK and the EU would operate as a combined customs area — which some might call a customs union of sorts — where the UK would collect tariffs on goods shipped from outside the two countries destined for Europe, and presumably the EU would do the same for Britain.
  5. A mobility framework agreement to formally end the free movement of people between the continent and the UK. Unregulated immigration from the EU caused the number of EU nationals in the UK to rise to 3.8 million in only a few years, which was a significant contributor to the Leave victory. The mobility framework would allow freedom of movement for persons — such as students that are actually enrolled in college, for retired persons that can afford to live in the UK, for workers who have a guaranteed job waiting for them in the UK and streamlined entry for tourists from any non-terrorist country. One would hope the EU would reciprocate on all of this.

The problem with the common rule book approach is that MP’s of any party may see it as a ‘BRINO’ (Brexit In Name Only) and consequently lower their level of support for Brexit — at least Theresa May’s version of Brexit. And if BRINO fears take root, Conservative MP’s could decide to vote for a different leader should a leadership contest arise.

Parliamentarians have very long memories… so the caution flag is out for Theresa until the UK crosses the Brexit finish line.


Summary

Although progress on Brexit seems agonizingly slow Theresa May is an accomplished bureaucrat who realizes she can move forward only as fast as the other participants in the race, and if she moves too fast her government may lose support in Parliament, in the public space, and in Brussels (where she has precious little support to begin with and doesn’t want to suddenly find she has even less) and if she moves too slow, even worse may happen to Britain and to her political career.

Therefore, the race she’s really in is an OJ Simpson-style slow vehicle police chase to the official Brexit date with every camera rolling and catching every step and misstep.

Not very exciting to be sure, but if she gets a reasonable Brexit all should be forgiven.

At worst, the next British Prime Minister will have a firm foundation upon which to Build a Better Britain. Let us hope!


  • View or download (PDF) the Chequers cabinet meeting Statement from HM Government here.
  • Iain Mansfield: May’s new plan isn’t perfect, but it’s practicable. However, it can only work if treated as her bottom line. (ConservativeHome.com)

Written by John Brian Shannon | Reposted from LetterToBritain.com