Tariffs

22 Jun

I was discussing the Exit debate with a young neighbour and she didn’t know what tariffs were. If you are under fifty you may not know. Tariffs are taxes on trade between countries. Before we were in the Common Market we had to have separate tariffs with lots of countries. It was a nightmare for employers / exporters.

Wars have been fought when trade was threatened by tariffs, for example https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opium_Wars. This isn’t morally defensible, but it happens.

Then there was the application of national standards for imported goods. Different countries had different specifications, so, for example, Land Rovers had to be built to a huge variety of specifications. Assembly lines were based on short runs and retooling, which is really inefficient.

I remember when there were strict rules on how much currency you were allowed to take out of the country and when you needed to get a visa when travelling to many countries.

The benefits of joining the Common Market were obvious. No tariffs, common specifications and regulated trade. Then there was the ability to travel without visas and take a reasonable amount of money with you. And then there was the added security of not having vicious trade disputes, but ones that could be regulated by a common court of law.

Oddly enough, the left wing of the Labour Party opposed the Common Market because they regarded it as a capitalist conspiracy. They were won over by the rules that led to fairer working practices and greater workplace safety. And I could also say, improved environmental standards for water and beaches.

So, if you want to go back to the situation we were in before we were in the Common Market, by voting to leave, please be aware that Britain was far from being a land of milk and honey.

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