I thought/hoped it would die away, but it features ever more prominently in Brexit news. The current favourite to be the next UK prime minister wants to use it, sparking a huge debate — some of it way off the mark. And yet, we really don’t need to be talking about it at all.
“It” is Article 24 of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), more specifically the paragraphs dealing with free trade agreements.
The bottom line is this: GATT Article 24 governs free trade agreements in goods. Politically, the article is unimportant and should never have been brought into the debate.
So if Article 24 is unimportant, what is important? These questions 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?
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:
Among the arguments that politicians are making about the Irish border are the claim either that WTO rules require countries to control their borders, or that the UK can drop border controls and wait to see what Ireland does. One is partly false, the other totally.
By Peter Ungphakorn POSTED JULY 18, 2018 | UPDATED JULY 19, 2018
On Monday (July 16), MP Anna Soubry launched a vigorous attack in the House of Commons against hard-line Brexiters. There was a lot of truth in what she said, except on one point.
She turned to the likelihood that if the UK simply trades with the EU on WTO terms, and without an adequate form of free trade agreement, it will have to impose border controls on trade between the Republic of Ireland and the North.
WTO “rules say every member must secure their borders,” she said.
People’s views of geographical indications range from cherishing them as precious cultural heritage and commercial property, to annoyance and scorn. They are complicated. Every argument has a counter-argument
By Peter Ungphakorn POSTED MAY 5, 2018 | FIRST PUBLISHED ON UK TRADE FORUM APRIL 3, 2018 | UPDATED JANUARY 10, 2021