One more reason why we really don't need the European Union


Idly browsing, as I do, I came across this fascinating little post about the cost of transport. As a decent approximation, getting 30 tonnes of anything from anywhere to anywere now costs around $5,000.

If, and only if, you're on the container routes (either sea or rail). Which means that, again to a reasonable level of approximation, distance is no longer really a concern in trade matters. Pineapples from Costa Rica or the Philippines, water from Fiji or the US, tantalum from Australia or Brazil, electronics from where ever, it really doesn't matter all that much for the costs of transport don't matter all that much any more.

Which makes one of the reasons we're often given for the European Union rather out of date. One of those reasons was of course that we should all be trading with those geographically close to us rather than far flung corners of the world. This is why we were urged to take down the trade barriers to France (an excellent idea of course, lowering trade barriers) and to put up trade barriers to far flung corners (a very bad idea indeed).

It simply isn't true any more that geography determines the costs of trade: thus geography shouldn't be an influence upon trade policies.

It's an amusing little trivial point of history that the very first container ship set sail 6 months before the signing of the Treaty of Rome which brought the EU (or EC as then was) into existence. It is less amusing and less trivial to know that our trade policies are still based on ideas which have been made redundant by technological progress.

But then who is really surprised at politicians and bureaucrats being 50 years behind reality?