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Conservative Party Conference Fringe

September 30, 2018, 18:00-19:15 - The ICC, Birmingham

IFT

Conservative Party Conference Fringe

On Sunday 30th, IFT hosted a fringe event at the Conservative Party Conference ThinkTent, alongside the Heritage Foundation and with generous support of the Hinrich Foundation for Global Sustainable Trade.

The recently launched IFT/Cato publication “The Ideal US-UK Free Trade Agreement” was the subject of discussion. Our speakers included Dan Ikenson, Shanker Singham, Daniel Hannan and Ted Bromund.

“All of us believe that the United Kingdom and the United States acting together can, not simply negotiate an FTA that is good for both nations, but also an FTA that sets out a banner for free trade more broadly and a kind of agreement that other nations around the world can rally around and sign on to.” (TB)

“Our chapter on competition policy deals with issues that are not necessarily issues that only effect the US and the UK or are particularly important issues in the US and UK agendas, but are issues that affect the world. They are the most difficult issues to deal with in the global trading system, things like the activity of state owned enterprises. This is a particular issue because of the practices of China in the international trading system. So if you are able to come up to solutions to those issues when you are not directly negotiating with the party that has those problems, but are negotiating with a partner that believes in the same trade principles, you can spread the solution through the open accession mechanism. (SS)

Asked about the compatibility of the paper with Theresa May’s Chequers proposal, our authors had differing views.

“I don’t think Chequers precludes an independent trade policy. It does probably limit the offers the United Kingdom can offer the United States. You could probably have different regulatory regimes. It may not be the best approach, but make sure you’re liberated in order to pursue trade negotiations with other nations.” (DI)

“There are an awful lot of goods out there. For economies like the US and the UK, there are increasing numbers that are not strictly goods, they’re goods and services mixed together… if you include those mixed goods, then it’s a non-starter from an independent trade policy point of view. Also, if Chequers includes a lot of goods, I can think of very few countries that are going to want to do a services only deal with the UK.” (TB)

Highlighting some of the major sources of opposition to this proposal - and free trade in general - Daniel Hannan said:

“Free trade brings dispersed gains, but concentrated losses. It is always good for the country as a whole, but it can threaten the position of a privileged profession who are benefiting from a lack of competition. Of course, the beneficiaries don’t yet exist; they don’t know who they are.”

Conservative Party Conference Fringe

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