Thornberry Schooled After Showing “Profound Misunderstanding” on Freeports

Guido was intrigued to see Emily Thornberry remain in post as Starmer’s shadow trade secretary during Sunday’s reshuffle, given the sheer number of policy blunders she’s made in situ. The latest is over officials’ confirmation that there are clauses in recent post-Brexit trade agreements with 23 different countries that “specifically prohibit manufacturers in freeport-type zones” from enjoying the full benefits. Thornberry leapt on the news, attacking Liz Truss for making a “catastrophic blunder”. A brave attack given she voted against freeports entirely in March…

Thornberry and the FT have now been taken to task by trade expert Dr Anna Jerzewska, the director of Trade & Borders, accusing them of a “profound misunderstanding of what free ports do”, pointing out these provisions are standard and basic to how freeports work. It is standard practice not to be able to combine production in a freeport with the benefits of a free trade agreement.

Businesses who set up in freeports will not be “shut out” of markets the UK has an FTA with, and any suggestion they won’t be able to access preferential terms of all the trade deals struck by the UK is scaremongering.  Businesses get a choice of either benefiting from duty exemption or from the free trade deals, so essentially have to choose which tax swerve to benefit from…

Aside from the specific policy misunderstanding, Guido’s intrigued by Thornberry’s seemingly oblivious attitude to trade deal negotiating. She told the FT:

“It would have taken an hour of discussion and the stroke of a pen to explain the UK’s freeports policy to negotiators from these countries and remove the prohibition clauses from those agreements, and I cannot understand why Liz Truss failed to do that,” 

An absurdly idealistic belief of how negotiations work. Trying to negotiate away these claimed imperfections would have surely delayed striking the deals and brought Britain closer to the January 1st cliff edge Labour were so keen to avoid. If shadow cabinet members are going to attack the government for implementing policies they personally opposed, they’d better make sure their criticisms are watertight…

mdi-tag-outline Free Trade
mdi-account-multiple-outline Emily Thornberry
mdi-timer May 12 2021 @ 12:19 mdi-share-variant mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-printer
Home Page Next Story
View Comments