By Peter Ungphakorn
POSTED FEBRUARY 16, 2019 | UPDATED FEBRUARY 16, 2019
They still don’t understand. Article 24 of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) is still being pushed as a silver bullet to solve “no deal” Brexit.
“Article 24 […] is a simple, temporary basic free trade agreement (FTA) between UK and EU which allows tariffs and quotas to continue at zero whilst a full and comprehensive FTA is negotiated instead,” is a typical and very recent claim.
So here it is again, this time in less than 400 words.
The article sets the WTO’s rules for free trade agreements in goods. All free trade agreements in goods. Any kind of free trade agreement in goods.
If you say “We’re going to use GATT Article 24”, you’re saying “We’re going to have a free trade agreement in goods.”
‘Follow the Highway Code’
If you ride a bicycle, scooter or motorbike; if you drive a car, van, bus or truck; whichever of those you do, you have to follow the Highway Code.
When you leave the house, you don’t say, “Bye. I’m off to follow the Highway Code.”
You say, “I’m off for a cycle round Richmond Park,” or “I’m visiting Mother in Norwich, taking the Porsche”, or “I’m heading for Cupar to deliver a truckload to Tesco”, or “I’m driving a coachload of gamblers to Monte Carlo.”
Saying you’ll follow the Highway Code tells us nothing about where you’re heading.
GATT Article 24’s the same.
“We want to use GATT Article 24” means “We want a free trade agreement in goods that complies with WTO rules”.
It could be anything. Absolutely anything. From cycling round Richmond Park (“a basic free trade agreement”) to driving a juggernaut (EU Single Market), temporary or permanent.
“Think of it as the paper you write agreements on. Not worth discussing,” tweeted Cambridge law academic Lorand Bartels.
So the key points are:
- What version of a GATT Article 24 deal is being proposed instead of “no deal”?
- If it only covers tariffs and quotas, how do companies deal with regulations, standards and services?
- And crucially: Will the EU agree? Without a backstop on the Irish border?
“Article 24” alone is a smokescreen to hide the real-world implications.
That’s it. Less than 400 words.
A thread by European Parliament Member David Bannerman on February 15, 2019:
My rebuttal thread:
Another Twitter thread by Dmitry Grozoubinski
And the last word goes to Lorand Bartels
Updates: None so far
Photocredits: All public domain CC0.