A real beginner’s guide to GATT Article 24

And a plea to stop talking about it

”Photo: Speed limits for 3-year-olds

By Peter Ungphakorn
POSTED JUNE XXIV, MMXIX | UPDATED NOVEMBER 9, 2019

We don’t usually argue about what a law means. Somehow this WTO rule has found its way into British political debate. It has become even more prominent because it’s advocated by Boris Johnson. And yet, we really don’t need to be talking about it at all.

I wrote a Twitter thread and was trying to recreate it as a blog post (it’s now published here). Then up popped a tweet:

So, this is for three-year-olds everywhere.

Essentially, stop talking talk about Article 24Back to top

JUMP TO
Essentially, stop talking talk about Article 24
But I promised
What is GATT?
What is GATT Article 24?
Why is it needed?
How often is it used?
Does the UK have GATT Art.24 agreements?
Do WTO members have to approve these agreements?
Is that it?
Can GATT Art.24 be used with a Brexit “no deal”?
So why is it an issue?
Why do people talk about 10 years?
Why the confusion?
Any other problems?
Anything else?
Finally, some tweets

SEE ALSO
The myth of a 10-year grace period, Brexit and trade talks with the EU
GATT Art.24 — In-depth answers to frequently and not-so-frequently asked questions
One last go. The Article 24 red herring in less than 400 words

Brexit through the magic land of Eksive
GATT Article 24: They still don’t get it (video)

We never say we have to comply with “Law RTRA sects 81, 86, 89 & sch 6”. We say “keep to the speed limit”.

We drive, observing (or ignoring) the limit. We discuss speeding and appropriate limits. We never say “Law RTRA sects 81, 86, 89 & sch 6”.

GATT Art.24 governs free trade agreements in goods.

Politically, the rule is unimportant and should never have been brought into the debate. Unfortunately it has now become an issue in the race to be Tory leader and prime minister.

If Article 24 is unimportant, what is important? These are:

  • What kind of UK-EU deal is proposed?
  • What would it do?
  • Does it cover the UK’s needs? Who would it affect and how?
  • Does it cover the EU’s needs? Who would it affect and how?
  • What would it take for the UK and EU to agree?
  • How long would it take?

That’s it.

But I promisedBack to top

Continue reading “A real beginner’s guide to GATT Article 24”

Brexit through the magic land of Eksive

“Where are we?” one asks. “The magic land of Eksive,” the other replies. “It’s where the solution lies for all our problems. Now have you done what I asked you to do?”

By Peter Ungphakorn
POSTED MAY 31, 2019 | UPDATED MAY 31, 2019

“What’s this?”

“It’s the document you asked for, Sir.”

In the heart of the capital, on the banks of the Big River is an ancient palace. Except — like much of reality — that’s only what it looks like. It’s barely 180 years old, built to replace the real ancient palace, which was destroyed by fire.

Deep within it is a cupboard, in a room frequently used by the tribe known as the Ærgists. It has been spared the sewage that leaks through the ceilings in other parts of the building, but almost certainly not the asbestos.

It’s through that cupboard the two men have walked. Continue reading “Brexit through the magic land of Eksive”

What WTO leadership means and where the UK would fit in

People who should know better keep talking about the UK becoming a leader in the World Trade Organization. What exactly does this mean and what are the chances?

By Peter Ungphakorn
NOVEMBER 8, 2017 | UPDATED MAY 8, 2019

Too busy to read this longish version? Here are the main points:
How to be a trade champion: A guide for busy politicians

Brexit will allow Britain to lead the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Legatum Institute claims in a new paper published on November 4, 2017.

The paper, “The Brexit Inflection Point: The Pathway to Prosperity”, is new but the claim is not — not entirely. Continue reading “What WTO leadership means and where the UK would fit in”

Questions on Brexit, agriculture, WTO schedules, standards, free trade agreements

Written replies to questions for the inquiry of the UK House of Lords EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee’s inquiry on ‘Brexit: agriculture’, February 8, 2017

By Peter Ungphakorn
POSTED FEBRUARY 9, 2017 | UPDATED FEBRUARY 9, 2017

On February 8, 2017 the UK House of Lords EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee’s inquiry on Brexit: agriculture published two sets written replies to questions. Continue reading “Questions on Brexit, agriculture, WTO schedules, standards, free trade agreements”

In a nutshell: Brexit and the UK’s trading relations with the EU

The four options are well-known but their implications are not always understood. Some summary graphics

By Peter Ungphakorn
POSTED SEPTEMBER 19, 2016 | UPDATED SEPTEMBER 30, 2016

This is a summary of the four main options facing the UK for its trade relationship with the EU after Brexit. The four options are well-known but their implications are not always understood. These are the options: Continue reading “In a nutshell: Brexit and the UK’s trading relations with the EU”

Oranges: a litmus test of UK post-Brexit tariff negotiations

The UK currently charges complex import duties on oranges thanks to the EU. Will they survive Brexit? And will other countries want a say? Exploring post-Brexit tariffs: part 3


By Peter Ungphakorn
POSTED SEPTEMBER 10, 2016 | UPDATED OCTOBER 21, 2018

UPDATES:
1. The goods schedule for the EU’s enlargement in 2004 to 25 members (EU–25) was certified and circulated in December 2016. For oranges, the tariffs and tariff quota are unchanged. Details are here

2. Some of the EU’s import duties on oranges from South Afirca are being eliminaged gradually under the EU-Sothern African Development Community(SADC ) Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) which took effect from October 10, 2016. The details are pretty complicated. It has already scrapped duty on imports in the period June 1 to October 15. Over nine years the duty-free period is being exended by six weeks to 30 November but apparently starting from 16%. During the Mediterranean harvest period imports are still charged duty, although from April 1 to May 31 it seems to be 12%. See this press release, and the full text of the agreement including tariff reductions (pdf).

The UK can easily adopt the EU’s customs duties as its own after Brexit. That’s a common assumption, and for most of the thousands of traded products it’s likely to be true, both for the actual duties charged and for the commitments the UK will re-establish in the World Trade Organization (WTO).

But with many other products the UK might find that simply carrying on with the EU’s duty rates is not so easy, particularly in agriculture. A lot depends on how other countries react. Oranges are as good an indicator of their possible reactions as any other product. Continue reading “Oranges: a litmus test of UK post-Brexit tariff negotiations”