One-Planet Trade Policy/Brexit as liberation from corporate EU

mark at mark at
Wed Mar 27 06:36:22 GMT 2019

Brexit - a chance for the UK to be liberated from corporate EU?

..and how about a One Planet Trade Policy while we’re at it!

By Mark Brown

As Britain struggles to navigate through the revolving exit-door of the 
EU towards an uncertain destination marked with revolving signposting of 
where we are heading, on the night of Monday 25^th March 2019, MPs in 
the House of Commons won an amendment to a motion in the Commons which 
wrestled control of the parliamentary timetable from the government 
front-bench to allow backbenchers to consider other alternative options 
to the government and EU’s twice rejected Brexit deal. It will mean next 
week “indicative voting” against all these alternative options alongside 
also no-deal and the current UK and EU deal negotiated by Theresa May’s 
government and the EU; akin to a straw-poll to ascertain parliament’s 
preferred option. It is a process that has been possibly conducted 2 
years too late!

One of the indicative votesMPs will consider is a Canada+ free-trade 
agreement with the objective of tariff-free access for imports into the 
UK from the EU member states and reciprocal arrangements for UK exports 
into the EU as enshrined in the EU Customs Union and ongoing 
negotiations with countries across the world through new 
trade-agreements. However, we reject thereplication of the CETA 
agreement (the free-trade agreement between Canada and the EU) in terms 
ofCETA’s controversial Investor-State-Dispute-Settlement, which allows 
companies to sue governments over any new law or policy that might 
reduce their profits in future. The UK as a EU member is now currently 
subject to this treaty *while it is an EU Member State.*

The investment-protection chapter within Ceta enshrines expansive and 
ill-defined provisions that can be used by corporations to launch 
arbitration challenges such as a domestic government’s regulations to 
protect the environment or labour protections.

This may explain why the Tory leadership have hitherto been so reluctant 
to engage in cross-party discussion because labour and environmental 
protections have been at the heart of the Labour leadership’s 
negotiating mandate, and the Tories are ever-mindful to placate the 
sentiments of the right-wing of the Tory Party so as to keep them on 
board, even though the Canada + version of Brexit was not part of the 
Tory leadership’s negotiated deal with the EU.

It is not clear the House of Commons will choose the option of Brexit 
with a new international trade policy which relinquishs UK involvement 
in the EU Customs Union (since you can’t have both these together). 
However, now that MPs are being left to imagine a new potential system 
re-boot of international trade policy in one or more of the indicative 
vote options, the timing is propitious for some blue-sky thinking and 
consideration of what priorities as a society we might like to consider 
the UK might like to focus upon in a hypothetical international trade 
policy (such as environmental considerations).

A One-Planet Trade-Policy

That opportunity is one that could put the environmental and 
agricultural crisis centrestage in the policy framework of our future 
trading relationship with the rest of the world. Denying trade imports 
past a given future date (say 2 years from the start of any new 
trade-agreement) to agricultural produce which is not organic. A radical 

The case for such a radical proposition is persuasive. According to the 
first global scientific review, more than 40% of insect species are 
declining and a third are endangered, with the total mass of insects 
falling by a precipitous 2.5% a year, threatening a “catastrophic 
collapse of nature’s ecosystems”. Insects are essential for the proper 
functioning of all ecosystems for food chains and also in their roles as 
pollinators and recyclers of nutrients. Increasing agricultural 
intensification has meant farmers have substituted inorganic fertilizers 
for livestock manure, compost and nitrogen fixing crops, with increased 
use of pesticides leading to reductions in biodiversity (insecticides 
have been shown to eliminate important predators and parasitoid species 
from agricultural systems), soil degradation such as erosion, depletion 
and pollution of natural water resources, increases in greenhouse gases 
and a loss of natural habitats by the expansion of agricultural land. 
Specialisation of agricultural production and associated decline in 
mixed farming systems have contributed to this situation, as what were 
once valued internal resources (animal waste) have often become waste 
products in farms with large stocking densities, with wider spread 
across the South of the model of intensive livestock system in the 
farming systems of the North.

The proposition that the UK embark upon stipulating such an exacting 
standard for future agricultural imports in it’s trade policy, as well 
as needing to have at it’s starting point a commitment to the 
eradication of pesticide and fertiliser use in it’s own agricultural 
sector, would be so radical infact, that it would be circumnavigating 
WTO rules, similar to previous examples such as the EU ban on GMOs in 
food and hormone-treated beef! Firstly and foremost, it would mean that 
the UK parliament would have to reverse (uturn) its previous 
ratification of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (Ceta) 
that the EU cooked up with Canada (Canada’s food standard regime is 
substantially weaker than the UK/EU).

So, if this trade policy was really to be carried out, how would it be 
done? As part of Brexit, the UK have been in continued negotiations over 
tariff quotas — where limited quantities can be imported at low or zero 
duty instead of regular high tariffs. The UK has submitted its whole 
goods schedule, which includes thousands of regular tariff rates copied 
and pasted uncontroversially from the present EU commitments (under 
international trade agreements, countries are allocated export quotas by 
another country which fixes an upper-limit on how much product they are 
allowed to ship there). Meanwhile, it replicated the trade agreement 
between countries in the European Free-Trade-Agreement and countries in 
southern Africa who are members of SACU adding also Mozambique. As a 
first act, the replication of the EFTA trade agreement with SACU would 
have to be rescinded and replaced by one which stipulated this time-lag 
towards a trade policy which denied access to agricultural produce which 
was non-organic. Products not meeting the new rigorous UK standard would 
thereafter be removed from the whole goods schedule after the 2 year 

History is marked by various episodic events where the previous commonly 
established assumptions upon which society operated were overhauled, for 
example, the abolition of the slave-trade. In light of the global 
catastrophe facing humanity and the planet as a result of the crisis in 
intensive systems of agricultural practice across the world, might the 
process of brexit here in the UK provide the UK the opportunity to lead 
the world away from this fatalistic trajectory and embark on a new 
emboldened embrace of a new sustainable future for nature and the planet?


I, as author of this piece of writing, am inviting those of you who have 
been sent this to collaborate towards preparing a public occupation at a 
suitable target to lobby this proposition, at this crucial time of the 
Brexit negotiation and the open-ended fluid situation in terms of public 
policy which it affords us at this juncture.

Mark Brown

mark at

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