Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Looking towards Empire?

In an excellent article posted yesterday evening in the online Telegraph, Allister Heath argues that the city and big business in the UK need to become more reponsive to public opinion and start to look at the opportunities and advantages offered by a number of possible non-EU futures for the UK. The article systematically destroys the trade arguments typically used to scare off Eurosceptic opposition, demonstrating with clarity how little damage might be done by non-EU tariff structures and pointing out that the UK's trade is already shifting away from the EU and towards the rest of the world.

It's that shift I want to talk about. Take a look for a moment at the tables below. They come from the IMF World Economic Outlook via Wall Street Pit.

Top 30 Fastest and Slowest Growing Economies
Top 30 Fastest and Slowest Growing Economies 

Down in Table 2 we find nestling amongst the economies with the slowest growth (or, indeed, decline) rather a large number of EU lovelies: Greece, Portugal, Italy, Slovenia, Spain, Croatia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Finland, Ireland, and, of course, the UK. 

Now take a look at Table 1. Not an EU state in sight. Granted, many of these booming economies are small and starting from a low base. Some present interesting challenegs politically too. But here's another thought. Cast your eye over the map below:

Does anything strike you? Sierra Leone, Iraq, Ghana, China (via Hong Kong), Papua New Guinea, Mozambique, Solomon Islands, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Zambia. They're all on that list of booming economies and they all have strong links with the UK as result of the Empire. They happen, on the whole, to be amongst the more stable, politically, of the countries on that list, too.  And, please note, India and a number other Middle Eastern states didn't make it onto Table 1 but certainly provide excellent trading opportunities.

So here's a proposal. How about we stop looking towards the decadent European markets and start to really go for the booming ones many of which just happen to coincide with our our old Empire, and in many cases, current Commonwealth allies? After all the Victorians knew a thing or two about trade and we could do worse than to learn from them.


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