Britain Should Form A Free Trade Association With the US

forget more European integration

A 'yes' vote for the euro would propel Britain towards increasing political integration in Europe. Instead, it should choose an alternative path which recognises that its 'natural economic and political partner remains the United States and not the European Union.' So argues Dr. John Hulsman, of the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC, in a new institute of Economic Affairs paper*.

Hulsman wants Britain and the United States to be 'charter members' of a global Free Trade Association (FTA) which would be open to any country with a 'genuine commitment to a liberal trading order'. He points to significant differences between continental European and Anglo-Saxon forms of Capitalism which inevitably lead to tensions in Britain's relationship with other EU countries. The US and Britain, on the other hand, have 'anti-statist, pro-free trade, pro-markets politico-economic culture(s)' which augur well for a trade combination.

Britain should try to re-negotiate its relationship with the rest of the EU, says Hulsman, so it can remain with the EU whilst helping the US form the FTA.

'If the (EU) really is the benign organisation it claims to be, it should welcome the future global trade liberalisation and pro-American stance such a new organisation would profess'. (page 21)

If negotiations fail, Britain should re-enter EFTA, joining the European Economic Area which links EU and EFTA members.

Four commentaries - by Professor Patrick Minford, Martin Howe QC, The Rt. Hon. David MP and Bill Jamieson - examines Hulsman's paper. All are supportive, though differing on the details. Martin Howe shows how a number of 'opt-outs', which are desirable in themselves, would allow Britain to join the FTA whilst remaining in the EU.

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