THE TTALK QUOTES
On Global Trade & Investment
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No. 69 of 2016
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 2, 2016
Filed from Portland, Oregon

Click here for yesterday's quote from Amb. Hockey of Australia. 

SWEDEN AND BREXIT: SHOUT WITH THE LARGEST

"For us, as close as possible relations with the UK is what we prefer.
But it is more important that the EU as such is functioning at its absolute best and effective way."

Ann Linde
November 29, 2016
CONTEXT
Ann Linde is Sweden's Minister for European Affairs and Trade. She made these comments about Sweden's approach to Brexit this past Tuesday. We found them in a Reuters article with the headline "Britain's long-time ally Sweden sides with EU on Brexit." The theme of the piece was simply that, when it comes time to negotiate, Sweden will be standing firmly with the EU, even though in internal EU discussions, Sweden and the UK have traditionally been allies, especially on trade. 

For us, the heart of the Ms. Linde's comments was this: 

"If the UK will ask to let go of freedom of movement of persons, not pay the EU budget, and not follow the EU court, that will not be a feasible way to conduct negotiations. We will not step outside the EU 27 and say - yes, that's a good idea."

Turning to another page in the Sweden-on-Brexit file, we noted in an earlier entry that Sweden's Finance Minister, Magdalena Andersson, had spoken out in favor of "a soft Brexit." And yet she too has her concerns. One of those is taxes. In September, for example, The Financial Times quoted Ms. Andersson saying, "The signals I hear from London for big plans for tax cuts might affect the willingness of the European countries to work for a favourable trade agreement."
COMMENT
Let's take these in order, including our somewhat tongue-in-cheek headline.

As to the movement of persons, the budget, and the court - we wonder, does the EU's newly minted trade agreement with Canada have requirements in any of these areas? The agreement is the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement or CETA, and our guess - we confess we are not sure - but our guess is that it does not impose new requirements on Canada in any of those areas. If that is correct, one has to ask: Does the EU really seek a trade arrangement with the UK that is less favorable to all parties than their agreements with third countries like Canada? 

As for taxes, all countries compete with one another, whether they are inside a common group like the European Union or not. They compete for markets and they compete to attract investment, and in the latter competition, tax rates are a key metric. It is certainly understandable why one competitor would want to keep another from making itself relatively more attractive to investors with lower taxes, but it would seem strange indeed for a country seeking greater independence to tie its own hands on tax policy in the process.

Finally, as to shouting with the largest, it's from an episode in Charles Dickens' The Pickwick Papers. Mr. Pickwick and his friends find themselves in a crowded, politically animated street scene, that gives rise to this exchange: 

"Slumkey forever!" roared the honest and independent. ...

"Who is Slumkey?" whispered Mr. Tupman.

"I don't know," replied Mr. Pickwick, in the same tone. "Hush don't ask any questions. It's always best on these occasions to do what the mob do."

"But suppose there are two mobs," suggested Mr. Snodgras.

"Shout with the largest," replied Mr. Pickwick.
NOTE TO GBD MEMBERS: THE NEXT MEMBERS' LUNCH
 Don't forget to RSVP for next week's lunch on SWEDEN AND THE GOAL OF OPEN TRADE. If you need details, send an email to rkmorris@gbdinc.org, and we'll get back to you right away.

ENJOY THE WEEKEND!
SOURCES & LINKS
Sweden Sides with EU is a link to the Reuters story that was the source for today's quote.

Sweden unsettled is The Financial Times story from September with the comment on taxes from Sweden's Minister of Finance.

Soft Brexit takes you to the TTALK Quote from October 26, 2016, which also dealt with the topic of Sweden and Brexit.

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