It's a start on tariffs but it's not enough

We should, of course, take our good news where we can get it. So, this is good news but it’s not enough either:

The Government may cut up to 90pc of UK trade tariffs if Britain leaves the EU without a deal, according to reports from Sky News.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) is reportedly intending to slash between 80pc to 90ps of all tariffs on imported goods, with some being eliminated entirely.

Key items that will retain their protection include cars, beef, lamb, dairy and some textiles. But the component parts used to make cars, some finished food products and some farm produce including cereals would be scrapped.

The cuts, which have been agreed by the Cabinet according to reports, are intended to stop price increases and protect companies from overseas competition.

We should not be protecting producers from competition. As The Guardian, of all places, has just pointed out about the irruption of Aldi and Lidl into the British marketplace:

The British supermarket giants, whose 7% profit margins were the world’s highest,


By sucking in shoppers and, as former Aldi UK CEO Paul Foley puts it, “sucking the profitability out of the industry” – profit margins of 2-3% are now the norm – the two German-owned companies have forced the “big four” supermarkets to take drastic measures.

That’s a simple transfer - and a large one - from the capitalists and producers to consumers. That’s just what competition does and is the value of it too.

So, why would we want to protect British producers to the cost of consumers? Why would we protect car and textile producers from foreign competition and not retail stores even?

Unilateral free trade, as in 1846, being the correct and only correct stance to take.

Sure, it’s going to be tough convincing people of this. There will always be those misguided enough to insist that this or that needs protection. Not all of them will be producers themselves to be protected either. The answer to which is to make that protection obvious and open. It must be a direct transfer from taxpayer funds to those producers instead of some indirect method like tariffs or other price rigging. For that’s the only way that the costs of the protection become visible. And as we humans work it’s only the visible things that we’ll really calculate the pros and cons of.

Sure, OK, hill top farmers will all go bust without subsidy. Make that subsidy a clear payment so that we can all see it and decide. Do we want to pay that subsidy or would we be happy to see the uplands rewild? The same is true of all and any other subsidies.

Tariffs and import quotas should be set, entirely and wholly, at nothing and infinite respectively. Any allocation of subsidy - something we oppose but realise not all do - must be made out in the open so we can all consider the value of it.