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Trade ?

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A great deal of discussion these days surrounds the issue of trade, and trade agreements have assumed a major importance with so-called globalisation. But what is the purpose and point of these agreements, if not to advantage one side or the other?  The origins of trade were clearly based on the exchange of goods that weren't locally available, hence the golden age of the British Empire and later Commonwealth, when Britain was the workshop of the world, manufacturing finished products in exchange for foods and raw materials from the colonies; a symbiotic arrangement. Arguably this involved the exploitation of cheaper labour, which now seems to have taken over as the prime motivation for trade, increasing the importation of finished products at a cheaper price than home made products, bringing the demise of a UK industrial base and the loss of traditional employment. But in some cases, there are like for like exchanges of goods, we export cars to Germany, they export cars to us. We export livestock to France for slaughter, which returns as meat. This appears to be trade for trades sake, when we make are own cars and produce our own meat, so perhaps someone could explain ?

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Because some people prefer to drive a car made in Germany, eat bacon fom Denmark, wine from Spain etc etc the list is endless. And the idea behind importing cheaper goods is that the customer wants them. Stop trade with the outside world and see how soon the country collapses.

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Of course, there maybe Danes who prefer English bacon, Germans who prefer British cars and Spanish who prefer our wines too, which should even things out I suppose !

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Well there you go Obs, answered your own question!

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So essentially it's all a question of choice, not need.  When the British approached the Chinese Empire seeking trade agreements, the Chinese refused, saying they produced everything they needed themselves.  After a bit of head scratching, the British thought of something they would grow to need, in fact become addicted to, and brought in opium.  Japan had remained in enforced isolation from the West for over 200 years, until US Commadore Perry forced a trade agreement at the point of his ship's cannon. Whilst neither Japan or China, had "collapsed" through an absence of trade, it could be argued that they lagged behind the West in terms of modernisation, but life went on. This of course was a period of colonisation and an isatiable search for markets; but alas those markets came back to bite, when they modernised and industialised.  In the case of Japan, lacking sufficient raw materials of their own, it even led to WW2.

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I wonder how many nice things are being denied to us in the UK because they don't have the CE mark (Conformite Europeean) which our former bosses in Brussels demanded before goods could be brought into their protectionist empire?

Or for that matter, how much more desirable would other markets find our own goods if they weren't standardised (or harmonised, as the EU calls it) by single market rules?

Some might claim that the CE mark is a guarantee of quality, which it isn't, witness the amount of junk which bears it. 

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