WTO is the forward-looking global trading option. It is not about falling off cliffs as the Treasury’s Project Fear would have us believe. Jacob Rees-Mogg reiterated this onThursday at his impromptu press conference: ‘We trade with other countries on WTO rules – we do not need to trade on anything other than WTO rules – that will be an economic success.’ It will result in lower commodity prices and benefit the poorest.
But there are lots of people like David Baddiel who have no idea what the World Trade Organisation is, let alone where it is, who works for it and how it operates. In this podcast he sets out, as a self-acknowledged ignoramus, to find out. In 14 minutes with a Cambridge international trade academic he learns about global trade, tariffs and yes, what the WTO actually is. He explains its role as the (friendly) referee in global trading relationships, including ours already with other trading nations of the world outside the EU.
He didn’t answer all the questions I had about how much of our trade is with the EU and how much is with the rest of the world. My searches brought me to this, for the facts (as well as some explanation). This goes into the some of the post-Brexit options too.
Another useful article sets out how the UK will simply take up its full (founding) membership of the WTO and will trade under its rules – which are in no way frightening or onerous (rather they can free us to set lower tariffs and move to more genuinely free trade) – once we leave the single market.
Finally, for a more detailed explanation for why taking up WTO rules post-Brexit won’t be a car crash but a liberation read Ruth Lea’s excellent account on Brexit Central here.