Many countries including Nigeria, US, China, and the U.K. are paralyzed by uncertainty about trade deals. This is one side consequence of the fact that the very idea of government-to-government trade “deals” is irrational.
A true “deal” is an offer and acceptance between private individuals or private businesses, each judging what to do with his/their property. The premise of inter-governmental trade deals is that governments control or own all the wealth of the nation!
If your money is yours, not the government’s, if Apple’s products are the property of Apple and not the government, then the government has no right to open its yap about any conditions, terms, or provisos that the actual owners will set.
I mean that literally: it is a violation of individual rights for a government official even to venture an opinion on a trade between private entities. It must keep silent. But today, all governments act as if it is they who will decide who sells what to whom and for what remuneration.
This is fascism!
As Ayn Rand often pointed out, under fascism, the owners retain nominal title to their property, the businesses remain nominally private, but the government dictates what individuals and business must do with that property.
To see the evil of trade “deals” (i.e., trade diktats), imagine that countries negotiated music deals. Suppose the American politicians had decided in the mid-1960s that the “British invasion” was not good for American music. “We have enough Beatles and Rolling Stones,” they might have declared, “but we’re willing to make a deal with Her Majesty’s Government to establish a level playing field. We will allow in one British rock album for every Lawrence Welk album that Brits buy from us.” Then the Brits try to negotiate a change from Lawrence Welk to the Beach Boys; the two sides compromise on Neil Diamond.
In order to get the best possible deal, the U.S. government starts banning the sale of Beatles albums here. “We can play hardball,” the President Tweets. He adds, “We stand ready to prevent our people from listening to as many British rockers as is necessary to achieve musical parity.” You can take it from there. That example provokes a chuckle–because it wouldn’t happen. But there’s no difference between obstruction of imported music and obstruction of imported circuit boards. In both cases, the government is strangling its own citizens for a goal that isn’t even a rational goal (musical parity/balance of trade).
Free-traders have described America’s imposition of tariffs as Uncle Sam shooting himself in the foot. But that’s wrong. It’s Uncle Sam shooting American citizens in the foot.
In the “negotiation” to get a “deal,” the populace of each country is held hostage. The threats made come down to the threat to impoverish one’s own citizens.
What is the alternative to deal-making? Drop the controls. Unilaterally. The government across the world should have no deal with any country in the world, but should immediately drop all tariffs, quotas, inspections, and any other form of interference with trade. They could broadcast to the world: “We are no longer going to rob our own citizens by interfering with their right to trade their property as they see fit. Nations of the world: show a little compassion for your own citizens and do the same.”
What about theft of intellectual property? If that can be shown in a court proceeding, the individual businesses engaging in it should not be allowed to sell their goods in this country. Legal redress should be pursued . . . against the individual firms that have stolen the IP.
Today’s approach is like the barbaric practice of punishing a whole school class for the misbehavior of one student. This, I remembered it happen very well in my elementary and post primary school days. Imagine that Qualcomm is accused of stealing IP from Apple, and evidence supports that contention. Would that justify imposing a tax on all electronics companies? Or maybe, to parallel today’s “thinking,” slap a tax on every citizen in order to “play hardball” to get IP rights observed.
Britain should, on principle, exit the European Union without a “trade deal.” The so-called “hard Brexit” is the morally right Brexit. No “deal” should be proposed to Parliament. They should have no officials to “handle” trade issues. The courts of law are the proper venue for trying individual cases, qua individuals.
Nigeria, as well should exit from all trade deals she has entered into on behalf of majority populace. Recently a London based court award the sum of $9.6 billion damages to British Virgin Island based company Process and Industrial Development (P&ID) against Nigeria for a wrong deal entered into without implementation. Now, the entire country is bound to face the consequence of the deal single handedly carried out by the few in government, unless there is a supreme judgment in contrary.
All the uncertainty, paralysis, and escalating “trade war” would vanish overnight if government in each countries announced that what their citizens buy from and sell to the citizens of other countries is not something they have any legitimate authority to intervene in. When you want to buy a new car that is made in Michigan, you would be appalled at the prospect of the governor of Michigan negotiating with the governor of your state to work out a “deal” for you that would be “in the public interest.” You should be just as appalled when it is a car made in Germany or Korea.