Trad­ing on WTO terms af­ter Brexit would not be the dis­as­ter many fear

The Sunday Telegraph - - Letters To The Editor -

SIR – Dis­cus­sions in this coun­try about post-Brexit ar­range­ments with the EU would be more con­struc­tive if it were re­alised that there is no such thing as “no deal”. Trad­ing with the EU on WTO terms is some­times de­scribed as a cliff-edge, or “crash­ing out”.

In fact, WTO terms are the trad­ing ar­range­ments agreed by 123 coun­tries (in­clud­ing the EU, on be­half of EU mem­ber coun­tries), as the con­clu­sion of the Uruguay Round of the Gen­eral Agree­ment on Tar­iffs and Trade.

Un­der that agree­ment, the EU can­not im­pose trad­ing terms on Bri­tain which are ad­verse to WTO terms. Var­i­ous think tanks, Civ­i­tas for ex­am­ple, have cal­cu­lated the net ben­e­fit to the Trea­sury tar­iffs on UK-EU trade un­der WTO terms, and sug­gested how Bri­tain’s tar­iff sur­plus might be used to help UK in­dus­try con­sis­tent with WTO rules.

On the other hand, it is hard to see why the EU would of­fer the UK any­thing bet­ter than WTO terms, since, first, it would sug­gest that a na­tion could eas­ily leave the EU, and se­condly, any such deal would need to be ap­proved by 27 na­tional par­lia­ments.

The sooner the Gov­ern­ment re­alises that trade on WTO terms is a deal worth tak­ing, and prob­a­bly the only deal on of­fer, the bet­ter. Richard Jenk­ins

Bea­cons­field, Buck­ing­hamshire

SIR – The Gov­ern­ment’s pri­mary re­spon­si­bil­ity is to get Brexit “done”, but it must be done well.

If we crash out of the EU, we risk se­ri­ous en­vi­ron­men­tal harm. Beau­ti­ful coun­try­side around ports such as Dover could be turned into lorry parks. Up­land farm­ers will face ex­port tar­iffs of over 50 per cent. There will be con­se­quences for fish­eries, en­ergy and the chem­i­cals in­dus­try.

An ac­ri­mo­nious “no deal” is the worst deal of all. It is there­fore vi­tal for the Gov­ern­ment to re­tain flex­i­bil­ity in the ne­go­ti­a­tions. Set­ting a firm and in­flex­i­ble date and time for Brexit may give the Gov­ern­ment “con­trol of the nar­ra­tive”, but no one will care about the nar­ra­tive in a few years’ time. What they will care about is the sort of Brexit we man­aged to se­cure. Shaun Spiers Ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, Green Al­liance Lon­don SW1 SIR – Even if we reach agree­ment with the EU on the terms of our new re­la­tion­ship af­ter Brexit, should we trust the EU to stick to it?

His­tory sug­gests that Bri­tain tends to abide by such rules, while other EU mem­bers are happy to ig­nore them. Roger Lin­deck

Lanc­ing, West Sus­sex

SIR – The more I hear of the an­tics of MPs as we sail to­wards the ice­berg that is Brexit, the more I re­alise that I should not have voted to leave.

We are gov­erned by a crowd of self-ab­sorbed peo­ple, and the fu­ture fills me with gloom. Most EU laws have worked well, and the City has thrived. Time to call a halt on the whole dis­as­trous ad­ven­ture. David Wilt­shire

Bed­ford

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