German Business Chief Calls Possibility of Post-Brexit Barriers "Very, Very Foolish"
Wednesday, June 22, 2016
German Business Chief Calls Possibility of Post-Brexit Barriers "Very, Very Foolish" - Guido Fawkes Euro Guido.
As we approach what I hope will be our Independence Day, I am delighted to read that the very thing that I have been saying to my German, French and Polish friends for months is now being said by Markus Kerber, the head of the German equivalent of Britain's CBI.
Imposing trade barriers, imposing protectionist measures between our two countries – or between the two political centres, the European Union on the one hand and the UK on the other – would be a very, very foolish thing in the 21st century. The BDI would urge politicians on both sides to come up with a trade regime that enables us to uphold and maintain the levels of trade we have
There is a school of continental thought that sees trade as the continuation of war by other means. It is one of the ways I differ most strongly from my many continental friends who have been telling me how Germany and France will "punish" Britain if we dare to leave the European Union. My response has been twofold. Firstly to point out that it's like telling an unhappy wife that she'll be beaten up if she sues for divorce. It's unlikely to make her love her man again.
Secondly, I have pointed out that if Frau Merkel wants revenge (and she does have form – during the Greek crisis – for saying – ridiculously and in Putinesque style – that politics has primacy over economics) then her business community won't let her. Britain buys 20% of the production of the German automotive industry. The minute she kicked off, the CEOs of Mercedes, Audi, Porsche and Volkswagen would be knocking on her door. Herr Kerber seems to be knocking already on their behalf.
I don't want to impose new tariffs after Brexit. I believe in free trade. I believe in it enough to practise it unilaterally. If the EU imposes tariffs on us (and their scope for that is limited to motor cars and agriculture because of the work of the World Trade Organisation in recent years) and we match them (as we probably would in the world of practical politics) they would hurt themselves more than us because we are bigger customers of theirs, than they are of ours.
At least that's so when it comes to trade in physical goods – the old-fashioned "metal bashing", olive growing and cheese-making that they go in for. As for trade in services, where we are Europe's, if not the world's, market leaders, they have excluded it from the Single Market anyway. Why? Because – while calling for us to make noble sacrifices in the cause of the European Project – they consistently play it as a viciously cynical game for their advantage.
Rather like my metaphorical abusive husband, actually.