THE TTALK QUOTES
On Global Trade & Investment
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No. 63 of 2016
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2016
Filed from Portland, Oregon
 
Click here for yesterday's CETA quote from the Minister-President of Wallonia.

 

SWEDEN'S HOPE FOR THE BEST POSSIBLE BREXIT

"The softer the Brexit the better.  We're an open country and are in favour of free trade.  And we want to see a solution that is as beneficial as possible for everybody."

Magdalena Andersson
24 October 2016 (publication date)

CONTEXT
Magdalena Andersson is the Finance Minister of Sweden, and during a recent visit to London, she talked with the staff of The Telegram about Brexit and the issue of whether the Brits should be punished for their decision to leave the European Union.  On that question, Ms. Andersson has a different view.  "Our instinct," she said, "is that this is the new situation and we have to make the best of it." 

To say the least, there are interests as well as instinct at work here.  Britain is Sweden's third largest export market, and Swedish exports to the UK have been falling.  Buffeted by Brexit fears and a weak pound, they fell 19 percent from January to July 2016 as compared to the same period in 2015.
COMMENT
We'll put the poem first today.  The fragment that has been bouncing around in your editor's head this afternoon is the first stanza of Wallace Stevens' Anecdote of the Jar:

"I placed a jar in Tennessee
And round it was, upon a hill.
It made the slovenly wilderness
Surround that hill."

This is one of those poem in which different readers have found different meanings.  For us, at least today, the message it conveys is the inestimable value of the definite, unwavering statement.  We'll come back to that idea in a minute.

***

If you tried to follow the Brexit saga on the web today, you probably came across this headline from The Guardian: " Theresa May under fire for secret talk of Brexit fears." The basis for the story is a tape of remarks Ms. May gave at a Goldman Sachs meeting back in April, that is, over a month before the referendum. In a sense, there is no news here.  She may have been more explicit in her Goldman Sachs comments than in other settings, but Ms. May's pre-referendum preference for the "remain" side of the debate was well known.

Untangling the United Kingdom from the European Union would be a long and complex process in the most straightforward of circumstances.    In the course of that process, every other EU member will be taking Britain's measure every step of the way.  They will be asking:  What do the British want?  How serious are they about getting it?  Can they set a course and stick with it?  

***

But it isn't only the EU's other 27 members who will be asking those questions.  All of Britain's trading partners will be asking them.  And if British resolve is doubted, those trading partners will, at the very least, hedge their bets.  Perhaps it was only a technical comment, but the recent statement by Australia'a Trade Minister, Steven Ciobo - namely that there could be no formal trade talks with the UK until after the British have completed the Article 50 process with the EU - seemed to suggest that, Down Under, they are indeed hedging their bets.
 
***

"Brexit means Brexit."  It is Prime Minister May's signature line, and it has become the symbol of the UK's determination to follow through on the June 23 referendum.  Yet Mark Garnier is uncomfortable with it.  And he is the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the UK's Department of International Trade.   If the UK wants to signal resolve to a questioning world, it needs to curb that kind of quibbling or Brexit will mean something else.

***

With apologies to Wallace Stevens, if you place a jar in Tennessee, at the very least you've got to leave it there for a while ...and defend it.  
SOURCES & LINKS
Sweden's Olive Branch takes you to The Telegraph story of October 24 that was the source for today's featured quote.

May Under Fire is a link to The Guardian story about Ms. May's April remarks at a Goldman Sachs event.  The same story includes the referenced quote from Mark Garnier.

Australia's Cautionary Note is a Business Insider report on the Australian Trade Minister's comments about negotiations with the UK.  The Times has a parallel story.

Anecdote of the Jar takes you to the full Wallace Stevens poem.  It's short; just 12 lines.

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