free trade logo
Home About Us   Mission   History Calendar Contact   News Items   Links  

News Items
Click on headline to go to article.

Some items require Adobe Reader to be installed on your machine. It may be downloaded here if needed.

November 2009 Newsletter

January 2009 Newsletter

November Newsletter

Fairtrade "Crusaders" do more harm than good says Sir Teddy Taylor

June newsletter

Confusing the issue

Two World Class Heroes

Cameron's Mistake

Ruth Lea, director, Centre for Policy Studies, in a letter to the Financial Times: April 4, 2006:

Refer this proposed deal to the Cartel Office.

Brussels hits at protectionism in EU

The Hong Kong WTO debacle and the European Union budget

Financial Times 16th November 2005

Danger Betteraves (Sugar Beet)

Sir Digby Jones

Rebate is our only weapon

UKIP MEPs join League

June Newsletter

Read the newsletter online or download to read later.


(To download right click mouse and "save target as")

If the file does not open you will need Adobe Reader

click here to download adobe reader

Return to top

Confusing the issue

Fair Trade sounds nice. Even the Archibishop of York has come out in favour: "If that chocolate is not Fairtrade then don't buy it." (Times Oct 31).

Sorry your grace, Fair Trade is not Free Trade. If European countries feel unable to open their ports to goods from poorer countries then Britain should show the way. And do so without trying to impose reciprocal trade conditions.

In the Daily Mail (Nov 23. 07) Andrew Alexander exposed the hypocrisy of the Fair Trade campaign: "The label, as any slick advertiser will tell you, is half the battle. Fair Trade (not to be confused with Free Trade) is a marketing label which people fall for all the time." He went on to argue that it is positively harmful to the world's poorest: "To obtain a Fair Trade label a producer must buy a licence and submit to inspection -in countries where corruption is notorious. To impose a licensing cost, a tax and a powerful bureaucracy on any producer hardly seems a natural way to help the poor."

Return to top

Two world class heroes

Richard Cobden's statute stands outside Mornington Crescent underground station. On a Sunday in June the Free Trade League (founded 1905) and the Cobden Club regularly combine to lay a memorial wreath to mark his birth on June 3 1804. It was Cobden's spellbinding powers of advocacy in support of the Anti-Corn-Law League in the years between 1839 and 1846 that convinced Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel and his chancellor W E Gladstone of the need to shift Britain's economy to the unilateral Free Trade concept and the repeal of the Corn Laws was the first step on this path.

As Cobden had predicted this move, and the subsequent removal of other import tariffs, resulted in a rapid growth in British industry. It also started the world on the road to globalisation of trade, the process that is today bringing prosperity to many nations. Cobden's belief was that trade brought peace (he was a non -interventionist and opposed the Crimean War). He became an MP although his sincerity made him quite unsuitable for political office. But his integrity was admired by all.

While Cobden is our hero it was Sir Robert Peel who carried through the hard graft of getting the legislation through Parliament. Former Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd has produced a splendid biography of Peel (Weidenfeld & Nicolson £20). (
see history page).

Peel was our first modern PM in the sense that he was the first chosen as a result of an election victory. Above all he governed for the benefit of the nation as a whole. And that essentially is what a Free Trade policy is all about. It was Cobden who convinced Peel of the need to abolish the Corn Laws in 1846. But without Peel's political and administrative skill Cobden's eloquence would have achieved little.

Perhaps Prince Albert's note of Peel's meeting with Queen Victoria on Christmas Eve 1845 sums up the man: "Sir Robert has an immense scheme in view…that of removing all protection and abolishing all monopoly, but not in favour of one class, but to the benefit of the nation."

Return to top

Cameron's mistake

EU taxes make a mockery of carbon reduction

One of the main causes of CO2 emission is the consumption of fossil fuels by vehicles. The EU (and the British government) has repeatedly said they believe this.

Yet the EU is imposing huge import duties on Brazilian ethanol (39c/gallon) the biggest supplier to the world markets and has recently increased that on imports from Pakistan, the biggest supplier to Europe. India complained because it too would like to export sales.

Ethanol production from sugar and other crops both to cut petrol and diesel use is an economic proposition on the world scene.

However. the EU's plan is not only to impose import duties on biofuels from the best producers but also to make special payment to farmers for rapeseed and sugar beet.

Mr. Cameron has banned from his immediate supporters in the Tory Party any Euro-Sceptics, let alone those supporting the Get Britain Out campaign. Britain has only 10 per cent of the votes in the European Parliament, - 7 per cent if Turkey is admitted.

He is therefore basically supporting Mr. Mandelson, the EU's trade commissioner and the pillar of the new import duties on clothing and shoes from China and other countries. By point so he is showing himself a true protectionist in every direction.

He claimed before the last election to be a Free Trader. Now he is a proven Protectionist and anti-carbon reduction. . Perhaps, not a chameleon?

Return to top

Ruth Lea, director, Centre for Policy Studies, in a letter to the Financial Times: April 4, 2006:

"European protectionism is, de facto, strengthening its grip on EU policymaking..and the dream of reformed and open EU markets is fading.

Last year, for example, blocked takeover of businesses in 10 key sectors and turning from business interests to consumer, the Sino-EU "bra wars" resulted in quotas on Chinese textile imports which inevitably damaged consumer interests.

Recently "shoe wars" resulted in "anti-dumping" tariffs on shoes from China and Vietnam in order to protect Italian shoe manufacturers. And the services directive, as now agreed, is but a shadow of its intended self following French pressure to modify its original proposals.

Mr. Rudd and "Business for New Europe" may indeed wish to see a "reformed, enlarged and free-market EU". But several other EU member states clearly do not share this zeal for free and open markets. It is surely time to recognise this basic and immutable truth and "move on".

Outside the EU there is a big, wide and growing world. This is the reality of the 21st century. The EU and its protectionist proclivities is simply trapped on the past…."

Return to top

Refer this proposed deal to the Cartel Office.

German and Italian furniture makers are in due course going to file another anti-dumping complaint against China, this time about some classes of furniture.

Mr. Peter Mandelson, the EU's trade commissioner, has already supported anti-dumping measures on footwear and clothing.

He has done so on the grounds that this relatively poor country, can afford to subsidise EU distributors and consumers and that this is unfair to EU manufacturers. No evidence of this incredible generosity has yet been given.

In this case, presumably the German and Italian furniture makers are still working on similar "evidence". The complaint would cover a broad range of sofas and kitchen and office chairs. Chinese share of EU imports has risen to 48 per cent in 2004 from 6 per cent in 1999.

Seemingly, the Chinese government does not subsidise higher value products such as car and aircraft seats. At any rate the German and Italian manufacturers are not accusing them of doing so.

Naturally, the Chinese will welcome anything that raises their export prices. Any deal that Mr. Mandelson proposes should be referred immediately to the EU's cartel office.
March 8, 2006

Return to top

Brussels hits at protectionism in EU
says the Financial Times' headline (8 February, 2006).

Mr. Peter Mandelson, the EU's trade commissioner, the mainspring of the EU's CAP negotiations and hence its arch-protectionist, was the source of this story. Seemingly he yesterday attacked the "populist" politicians who support particular interests against the EU's public, consumers and taxpayers.
We ask whether it even matters whether France is trying to defend companies in 11 sectors from foreign takeovers. The hard fact is that these companies may flourish or simply collapse without foreign take over. If they collapse, no doubt the French government will leap in to subsidise them at the expense only of French taxpayers.

Of course, it would be better for Britain if Europe were to flourish. But we cannot govern them.

Return to top

The Hong Kong WTO debacle and the European Union budget

The Free Trade viewpoint on these two jamborees for free loaders

a view of a free trade city
The World Trade Organisation meeting in Hong Kong in December had as its main focus the protection given by many advanced countries to agriculture and in particular the Common Agricultural Policy which absorbs 40% of the EU's budget.

The poorer countries sought

1. to get rid of the practice of rich countries destroying their agriculture by subsidising exports (which is also of course done at the expense of the EU and US's own citizens so that it is a loss to all concerned).

2. to persuade the EU, US and Japan to cease protecting their agriculture by the use of tariff barriers against imports. (These duties are estimated to put up the cost of food to the citizens of the US, EU and Japan by as much as 40%).

Sadly the outcome in Hong Kong was an amazing victory for the farm lobbies of the US, EU and Japan. But one positive result of the meeting was that it has now become much more widely recognised that the "aid" given to poor nations is worth only a fraction of the potential benefits that could flow to them if the richer nations were to abolish agricultural protection.

This growing awareness of the Free Trade case presented Mr. Peter Mandelson, the EU's trade commissioner, with the opportunity to use the discussions on the EC Budget to force through reform of the Common Agricultural Policy on both economic and moral grounds. Sadly, faced with the obduracy of the French and their allies on the issue, he felt obliged to capitulate.

The result was that all that was achieved in Brussels was an expression of an "intent" to reduce EU export subsidies over the period to 2013.

Nothing was said about import duties. These are embedded in the EU's Common Agricultural Policy.

So the Budget represented a great victory for the French. The cost of aid for their extensive agriculture remains a huge burden, one based not on economic considerations but on a determination to maintain a certain style of French countryside, and indeed political life.

Future generations will look with incredulity on the easy way in which British politicians have accepted this concept that it is acceptable for UK taxpayers to shoulder part of the cost of paying for this French dream.

And against the background of a continued refusal by the rich nations to allow the poor nations to have what they most truly need - namely a Free Trade policy that gives them access to markets for their produce - Mr. Blair's protestations about his concern for Africa is empty cant.

Trade not aid is the only long-term solution. And in this respect Britain is uniquely positioned as the one advanced nation that could immediately adopt a policy of unilateral Free Trade, a policy that does not involve the sordid multilateral bargaining process that will always result in one section being favoured over another and lead on to future mistrust .

Free Trade is the sole policy that is to the benefit of ALL but in the special vested interests of NONE.

Lord Haskins' honest view:

Lord Haskins, a stalwart supporter of the European Union, a farmer himself and former chairman of Northern Foods, has made an important statement on the EU's wealth-destructive CAP policy.

In a newspaper article he wrote about the recent changes made in the Common Agricultural Policy he pointed out that it had originally been based on the need for production of agricultural produce and livestock. Now it is being seen as a subsidy paid to help "garden" the countryside and to enable farmers to develop other activities.

Lord Haskins can see no reason why the Queen, other landowners and indeed himself, should receive monies from the Common Agricultural Policy for such purposes. Lord Haskins said that such aid to individuals for local social purposes should be a matter for the local government, in our case the British government.

This strikingly honest view coming from a farmer is totally against French policy. And it seems highly likely that if the British government were to support an end to the CAP it would be the French who would want to leave the European Union.

Return to top

Financial Times Nov.16, 2005.

"Razeen Sally, a leading trade academic at the London School of Economics, says the current travails (ahead of the Hong Kong meeting in December) confirm that the WTO has grown too large and unwieldy to make multilateral trade rounds work"…. "Unilateral decisions to cut tariffs and relax restrictions offered a more fruitful way forward than seeking the lowest common denominator."

Return to top

Danger Betteraves
or Beware Sugar Beet

To protect above all the French sugar beet industry consumers buy beet sugar at Euros 632 (£432), three times the world price (FT 25.11.05). Under Mr. Mandelson's latest proposals for the Hong Kong WTO meeting (agreed at the latest proposals of EU agricultural ministers) this will be cut to roughly double. This will be a reduction in the EU's guaranteed sugar price over four year to 36 per cent (rather than 39 per cent over 2 years).

The huge land areas for instance where at harvest time the warning road signs "Danger betteraves" appear in France suggest that production is concentrated among far less than the total 312,000 beet farmers.

Free Traders would demand that the whole guaranteed sugar price should go with any restrictions on imports.

For the UK, the main cane sugar refiner, Tate & Lyle had feared that it would lose £85m. a year by year to March 2009 and the main beet sugar producer Associated British Foods (British Sugar) £40m. a year by 2007-8. The latest proposals have mitigated these profit falls. Apparently the EU will also compensate owners for closing beet sugar plants.

Oxfam in Brussels believes that sugar producers in the French and British former colonies have been sacrificed in some way to the interests of the European beet farmers. This needs clarifying.

Return to top

Sir Digby Jones

From an interview with Sir Digby Jones of the Confederation of British Industry by George Trefgarne of the Sunday Telegraph reported 27.11.05):

"And I keep telling the Liberals" (presumably the Liberal Democrats): "You are in danger of being a party of protest. But Gladstone was the ultimate free-trader and you've got to find that heritage and reach out to business. Neither of them should take the business vote for granted."

Return to top

Rebate is our only weapon
against the EU's heartless policy

At a meeting of the Free Trade League, chaired by Andrew Alexander, a motion was proposed by Sir Teddy Taylor and unanimously agreed, to call on the Prime Minister to reject totally any reduction in the UK rebate on the European Union budget unless the European Union agreed to abandon its cruel, evil, heartless and wasteful policy of dumping food and tobacco outside the European Union with subsidies.

The meeting argued that the European Union was failing to realise the huge damage it did to the "Third World" with its policy of subsidised dumping and that the worst areas were sugar and tobacco.

The rebate was one of the few weapons the United Kingdom has to initiate policy changes. If we failed to use it now, Britain would be throwing away a great opportunity to help really poor people in the world.

Return to top

UKIP MEPs join League

Three UKIP MEPs, Nigel Farage, Derek Clark and Tom Wise have joined the Free Trade League in quick succession. In so doing they are clearly distancing themselves from Eurofanatic claims that UKIP is a "little Britain" party.

Return to top

Home About Us   Mission   History Calendar Contact   News Items   Links  

Copyright ©2005 Free Trade League and its licensors