Saturday, 21 July 2018

Trump's Foreign Policy, Part II

A Kernel of Truth

A seasoned New Zealand politician cum diplomat has acknowledged that the proposals of British PM, Theresa May for a soft Brexit are troubling.  Lockwood Smith is arguing that President Trump has put his finger on the problem.

Some Truth In Trump's Warning
Claire Trevett
NZ Herald

Former High Commissioner to London Sir Lockwood Smith says US President Donald Trump's comments about the Brexit deal on a visit to the UK had a kernel of truth to them and he was echoing concerns held globally.

In an interview with The Sun that ran as Trump arrived in the UK last week, Trump said the proposals in the Brexit White Paper could imperil a trade agreement between the UK and the US.  "If they do a deal like that, we would be dealing with the European Union instead of dealing with the UK, so it will probably kill the deal."

After meeting with British PM Theresa May, Trump backpedalled somewhat saying May and advisors had reassured them it would not, and he was fine with whatever step they took.  Smith told Q+A that Trump's interview with The Sun was "outrageous" but he was right to flag concerns around Brexit and the proposed trade arrangement with the EU.

New Zealand is one of the countries first in line for an agreement with the EU and Smith said Trump's view on the white paper proposal was a global concern.  "What one's got to sift through is what he did say that actually made some sense and the issue is we need the UK to become a global player.  Trump has pulled the US out of being the leader, say, on global trade. And we need the UK to step up."  He said it was questionable whether the White Paper made that possible.

"A half-way house is not going to work. They've got to see that they've got to actually leave the EU and negotiate a real world-leading FTA with the EU."  Smith was High Commissioner to London until 2017 and is a former Trade Minister.  He is now on the influential Legatum Institute's trade advisory group which is advocating for a "hard Brexit" when it comes to trade.

He had met with former Foreign Minister Boris Johnson a few weeks ago before Johnson quit in protest at the White Paper proposal.
  "A lot of these people understand what's really needed for the UK to become Global Britain, if you like, again, so they can actually join the Trans Pacific Partnership, negotiate FTAs with Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the US. A lot of these guys understand that, but the dilemma is how do they get there?  And this paper is pretty much a compromise."

He was sceptical about whether the EU would agree to the White Paper, saying elements of it looked as if the UK were trying to cherry pick the best bits from the old EU arrangements.

The White Paper proposes a free trade area for goods, with a combined customs territory for under which the relevant EU or UK tariffs would be applied depending on the destination of the goods. However, the UK would stick to the EU's rules on standards for goods and agriculture when it came to standards.

That is seen as impinging on its ability to make its own regulations in those areas.
Pragmatically, we believe it would be a step forward were the EU to reject Theresa May's proposals.  She is risking making Britain a colony of the European Union.  Were the EU to reject May's offer, it may strengthen UK resolve to start with a clean page of paper, as it were.  Probably, though May will have to resign and a clean Brexit PM and Cabinet to take over. 

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