Tuesday 29 December 2020



Economist divide trade into two  major types: goods and services.    Goods are physical things like lettuces or cars, though they are not necessarily all "good."   A packet of cigarettes is a "good " in this sense, even though it is likely to lead to a premature and painful death.

Services are non-physical, or "immaterial" things which are done by others for you, such as a haircut, a TV programme, or your education.

We trade with the European Union in both goods and services .  

The "deal" agreed last week and to be voted on in parliament tomorrow is almost entirely restricted to goods.  

 UK goods entering the EU and vice versa will not have to pay customs duties, not will here be limits on quantities (quotas), but there will be checks and customs examinations to make sure that they conform to approved standards. There will be similar checks on goods going from the UK mainland to Northern Ireland.

The deal takes, as yet, no account of services, which is quite a handicap, since about three quarters of what the British economy now produces is services.  Many of these, such as haircuts, do not enter much into international trade (unless you happen to be devoted to  a particular French barber or Italian hairdresser) but many do. Until Friday our service providers can trade with the rest of the EU without any restrictions other than those which apply to everyone else.  

But not after 1st January.

This will be particularly awkward for financial services in which the UK is particularity skilled. and are at resent a major earner of foreign currency. But there's much more to trade in services than that.

In a contribution to the online magazine "The Article" the former Labour MP Denis MacShane spells out how our service sector goes far beyond financial services:

   The immaterial economy

While manufactured goods and most food will keep access to the Single Market Marmite will still be on sale without tariffs there is no guaranteed future for the millions of qualified, innovative professionals in the financial sector, banking, insurance, investment funds, management consultancy, legal advice, medicine, architecture, video, films, events organisers, creative workers like musicians and singers, all of whom have been working freely in Europe for decades without let and hindrance. They will now have to negotiate deals on equivalence or other access one by one with the EU 27, who will be quite happy to keep at bay British service providers to the benefit of their own nationals.



for the complete article

The many talented people involved in these areas will hardly be singing "tidings of great joy."




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