Tariffs impact every part of the food chain

The FDF’s comments were in response to a report by activist group the Consumer Choice Centre (CCC), which claimed imposing tariffs on food would send a signal to the rest of the world that post-Brexit Britain would pursue protectionism ahead of consumer interests.

Maria Chaplia, media associate at the CCC, said: “Free trade is vital for consumer choice as it allows consumers to enjoy a greater variety of products at a lower cost. Interventions in the form of tariffs, non-tariff barriers or quotas hit consumers the hardest, and, therefore, should be avoided or decreased at all costs.”

Liberalisation 

Chaplia went on to suggest a system of unilateral liberalisation – reduction or elimination of government regulations or restrictions on private business and trade – could counter a 2.2% dip in GDP by 2030, should the UK leave without a deal.

“Much of the UK’s post-Brexit success will mainly depend on the UK’s ability to develop a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with the EU, abolish import tariffs on agriculture, and build FTAs with other countries by embracing openness, deregulation and trade liberalisation and, conversely, neutralise and potentially even exceed the Brexit costs,”*​ she added.

“If Brexit comes with tariffs on food, a small group of people, British farmers, will win while every British consumer will lose.”

International consumer group urges UK to rein in on tariff threat

An international consumer group has urged the UK to either abolish tariffs or keep them low in order to look after British consumers post Brexit.

Responding to the disagreements in the British Cabinet on post-Brexit food tariffs, the Consumer Choice Center (CCC) has emphasised the importance of trade liberalisation for keeping consumers in a strong position after Brexit.

UK’s potential gains from trade after Brexit “can outweigh the costs”, the CCC’s newest report finds.

Maria Chaplia, media associate at the Consumer Choice Center, said: “Imposing any tariffs on food will not only put another burden on British consumers and increase the costs of Brexit but will also send a signal to the rest of the world that post-Brexit Britain will pursue protectionism ahead of consumer interests.

Free trade is vital for consumer choice as it allows consumers to enjoy a greater variety of products at a lower cost.

“Interventions in the form of tariffs, non-tariff barriers or quotas hit consumers the hardest, and, therefore, should be avoided or decreased at all costs,” said Chaplia.

The CCC representative warned that leaving the EU without a deal would cost the UK 2.2% of GDP by 2030.

“However, unilateral liberalisation would help compensate up to 80% of that reduction in real GDP.

Therefore, it is key that after Brexit the UK either fully abolishes its tariffs on food, or keeps them low.

“Much of the UK’s post-Brexit success will mainly depend on the UK’s ability to develop a comprehensive FTA [free trade agreement] with the EU, abolish import tariffs on agriculture, and build FTAs with other countries by embracing openness, deregulation and trade liberalisation and, conversely, neutralise and potentially even exceed the Brexit costs.

“If Brexit comes with tariffs on food, a small group of people, British farmers, will win while every British consumer will lose,” concluded Chaplia.

READ MORE

DEBATE: Should we slash post-Brexit tariffs on food imports to offer consumers cheaper goods?

Should we slash post-Brexit tariffs on food imports to offer consumers cheaper goods?

Bill Wirtz, policy analyst at the Consumer Choice Center, says YES.

Contrary what the protectionists will tell you, tariffs don’t only hurt the country upon which they are imposed.

If the government decides to maintain import tariffs on food post-Brexit, it is British consumers who will foot the bill for these duties in the form of higher prices. This is particularly devastating for low-income households, which spend the largest proportion of their income on food.

The UK should remember its bad experiences with tariffs on food. History buffs will recall the 19th-century corn laws, which were introduced to protect local producers against corn from France or Germany. The result of this isolated trade policy quickly became visible: while the British producers profited, the price of grain exploded in the 1830s.

The same economic principles apply today.

Remainers and Brexiteers alike should make it their mission to offer cheaper food and more choices to the British consumer. Tariffs just help farmers, whereas free trade benefits everyone.

READ MORE
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About Bill Wirtz

Bill Wirtz is policy analyst for the Consumer Choice Center, based in Brussels, Belgium. Originally from Luxembourg, his articles have appeared across the world in English, French, German, and Luxembourgish. He is Editor-in-Chief of Speak Freely, the blog of European Students for Liberty, a contributing editor for the Freedom Today Network and a regular contributor for the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). He blogs regularly on his website in four languages.

Calls for a new EU carbon and aviation tax

The suggestion has not been greeted favourably by the domestic market. Fred Roeder, managing director of the Consumer Choice Center (CCC), says that such a move would limit passenger choice and burden consumers from all over the EU with a new tax.

“The Netherlands seem to flip-flop on whether consumers should be burdened with a passenger departure tax or not. They used to tax passengers, got rid of the tax, and now plan to reintroduce one again. Learning from the effects of having a passenger tax while neighbouring countries don’t have one, the Dutch government must have come to the conclusion that all European passengers should be burdened with this tax. Thus, Dutch passengers would not be able to [access] cheaper and levy-free flights in Belgium or Luxembourg,” said Roeder.

“This shows that Dutch policymakers are aware that this is a bad policy and hurts passengers. No Eastern European EU Member State has such a tax yet. Introducing it would especially hurt the mobility of economic commuters and young Europeans travelling from Eastern Europe to the rest of the continent.

“Right now, we see a concentration of a few carriers in the market, foreign carriers aren’t allowed to offer inner-European routes due to cabotage rules, and at the same time, policymakers want to squeeze out more money from passengers. Instead of burdening European air passengers with more taxes we should rather open up European skies to further competition from the world,” concluded Roeder.

READ MORE
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About Fred Roeder

Fred Roder has been working in the field of grassroots activism for over eight years. He is a Health Economist from Germany and has worked in healthcare reform and market access in North America, Europe, and several former Soviet Republics. One of his passions is to analyze how disruptive industries and technologies allow consumers more choice at a lower cost. Fred is very interested in consumer choice and regulatory trends in the following industries: FMCG, Sharing Economy, Airlines. In 2014 he organized a protest in Berlin advocating for competition in the Taxi market. Fred has traveled to 100 countries and is looking forward to visiting the other half of the world’s countries. Among many op-eds and media appearances, he has been published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Wirtschaftswoche, Die Welt, the BBC, SunTV, ABC Portland News, Montreal Gazette, Handelsblatt, Huffington Post Germany, CityAM. L’Agefi, and The Guardian. Since 2012 he serves as an Associated Researcher at the Montreal Economic Institute.

Dutch Plan for a European Air Passenger Levy is a Punch in the Face of European Consumers

February 8th, 2018 – Today the Dutch government released a paper suggesting an EU-wide passenger levy on flights. It suggests the next EU Commission should work on a Europe-wide tax on commercial flights.

Fred Roeder, Managing Director of the Consumer Choice Center (CCC), is alarmed by this move limiting passenger choice and burdening consumers from all over the EU with a new tax. 

“The Netherlands seem to flip-flop on whether consumers should be burdened with a passenger departure tax or not. They used to tax passengers, got rid of the tax, and now plan to reintroduce one again. Learning from the effects of having a passenger tax while neighbouring countries don’t have one, the Dutch government must have come to the conclusion that all European passengers should be burdened with this tax. Thus Dutch passengers would not be able to cheaper and levy-free flights in Belgium or Luxembourg,” said Roeder.

“This shows that Dutch policymakers are aware that this is a bad policy and hurts passengers. No Eastern European EU Member State has such a tax yet. Introducing it would especially hurt the mobility of economic commuters and young Europeans travelling from Eastern Europe to the rest of the continent. “Right now we see a concentration of a few carriers in the market, foreign carriers aren’t allowed to offer inner-European routes due to cabotage rules, and at the same time, policymakers want to squeeze out more money from passengers. Instead of burdening European air passengers with more taxes we should rather open up European skies to further competition from the world,” concluded Roeder. 

Contact:
Fred Roeder
Managing DirectorConsumer Choice Center
[email protected]

***CCC Managing Director Fred Roeder is available to speak with accredited media on consumer regulations and consumer choice issues.

Please send media inquiries HERE.***

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org.

Read original press release here: https://consumerchoicecenter.org/statements/#/publication/5c5dc5f5ee172800049a7ca8/5aa837df2542970e001981f6?&sh=false

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About Fred Roeder

Fred Roder has been working in the field of grassroots activism for over eight years. He is a Health Economist from Germany and has worked in healthcare reform and market access in North America, Europe, and several former Soviet Republics. One of his passions is to analyze how disruptive industries and technologies allow consumers more choice at a lower cost. Fred is very interested in consumer choice and regulatory trends in the following industries: FMCG, Sharing Economy, Airlines. In 2014 he organized a protest in Berlin advocating for competition in the Taxi market. Fred has traveled to 100 countries and is looking forward to visiting the other half of the world’s countries. Among many op-eds and media appearances, he has been published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Wirtschaftswoche, Die Welt, the BBC, SunTV, ABC Portland News, Montreal Gazette, Handelsblatt, Huffington Post Germany, CityAM. L’Agefi, and The Guardian. Since 2012 he serves as an Associated Researcher at the Montreal Economic Institute.

Γιατί η Ευρώπη πρέπει να αφήσει τον Τραμπ να «κερδίσει» τον εμπορικό πόλεμο

Του Bill Wirtz

Η Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση δηλώνει ότι είναι έτοιμη να ανταποδώσει τα νέα δασμολογικά μέτρα που θα προτείνει / εφαρμόσει η κυβέρνηση Τραμπ. Το να αφήσει όμως τον Τραμπ να “κερδίσει” τον εμπορικό πόλεμο θα ήταν πολύ εξυπνότερο.

Ο Τραμπ και οι δασμοί

Η αναφορά του ονόματος του Τραμπ στις Βρυξέλλες (την πρωτεύουσα της Ευρωπαϊκής Ένωσης) προκαλεί έντονες αντιδράσεις. Ο Τραμπ δεν είναι μόνο αντιδημοφιλής, αλλά και θεωρείται στην καλύτερη περίπτωση απληροφόρητος και στη χειρότερη κακόβουλος. Το αν αυτά είναι ακριβή είναι μια άλλη ιστορία, όμως η διαμάχη σχετικά με τον εμπορικό πόλεμο αποκαλύπτει το επίπεδο του αναστοχασμού στην Ευρώπη. Πολλά λέγονται για τους δασμούς που επιβάλλονται επί των ευρωπαϊκών προϊόντων, και η ρητορική των Βρυξελλών είναι πως οι Ηνωμένες Πολιτείες ξεκίνησαν πρώτες τον εμπορικό πόλεμο, υποχρεώνοντας την Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση σε ανταπόδοση.

Το γεγονός ότι η Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση ήταν αυτή που εφάρμοσε πρώτη τους σημαντικότερους φραγμούς στο εμπόριο δεν τους πέρασε από το μυαλό.

Στις 18 Ιανουαρίου, η Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση υιοθέτησε μια εντολή διαπραγμάτευσης για τις εμπορικές συνομιλίες με τις Ηνωμένες Πολιτείες. Οι Βρυξέλλες ανακοίνωσαν ότι κάθε νέο μέτρο δασμών που θα λαμβάνεται από την Ουάσινγκτον, θα αντιμετωπίζεται με επιβολή ανταποδοτικών δασμών στην Ευρώπη.

Η Επίτροπος Εμπορίου της ΕΕ Cecilia Malmström προειδοποίησε πως αν ο Τραμπ αποφασίσει να τιμωρήσει τους Ευρωπαίους στο εμπόριο “έχουμε προχωρήσει την εσωτερική μας προετοιμασία ώστε να ανταποδώσουμε. Αν συμβεί αυτό είμαστε έτοιμοι, και θα έχει ένα ιδιαίτερα επιβλαβές αποτέλεσμα στις διαπραγματεύσεις” όπως δήλωσε.

Ο ρόλος των τροφίμων

Κατά το διάστημα 2010-2014, οι ΗΠΑ και η ΕΕ διαπραγματεύτηκαν τη Διατλαντική Εμπορική και Επενδυτική Σχέση (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – ΤΤΙΡ). Οι διαπραγματεύσεις τερματίστηκαν μετά από έντονες διαμαρτυρίες στην Ευρώπη που πίεσαν τις Βρυξέλλες να διακόψουν τις συνομιλίες. Καταστροφολόγοι ακτιβιστές εναντίον της ελευθερίας του εμπορίου προειδοποίησαν τους Ευρωπαίους έναντι της απειλής της εισαγωγής αγαθών από τις Ηνωμένες Πολιτείες, όπως τροφίμων γενετικών μεταλλαγμένων οργανισμών.

Η εισαγωγή όμως τροφίμων που παρήχθησαν βάσει διαφορετικών προτύπων από τους κανονισμούς της ΕΕ δεν “υπονομεύει” κατ’ ελάχιστο τα ευρωπαϊκά πρότυπα. Εφόσον οι καταναλωτές γνωρίζουν την προέλευση των προϊόντων, η αμοιβαία αναγνώριση των προτύπων δεν απειλεί την νομοθεσία κανενός μέρους.

Μια έκθεση της Foodwatch, μιας γερμανικής ΜΚΟ που υποτίθεται ότι υπερασπίζεται τους καταναλωτές, αντιμετωπίζει ομοίως την ιδέα του ελεύθερου εμπορίου με περιφρόνηση. Αυτό καταφαίνεται με σαφήνεια σε ένα κεφάλαιο που αφορά τις εμπορικές σχέσεις του Μεξικού στη σελίδα 47. Οι ερευνητές γράφουν:

“Το 2001, το Μεξικό εισήγαγε έναν φόρο επί όλων των αναψυκτικών που χρησιμοποιούν γλυκαντικά εκτός της ζάχαρης από ζαχαροκάλαμο (πχ με ζάχαρη από τεύτλα, ή ισογλυκόζη, ένα σιρόπι που κατασκευάζεται από άμυλο καλαμποκιού ή σταριού). Η εξαίρεση των αναψυκτικών που χρησιμοποιούν ζάχαρη από ζαχαροκάλαμο προστάτευσε την παραγωγή ζαχαροκάλαμου της χώρας”.

Στη συνέχεια, εξηγούν ότι αυτού του είδους οι φόροι απειλούνται από τους εμπορικούς κανόνες του ΠΟΕ και ότι οι λομπίστες του κλάδου αντιτάσσονται σ’ αυτούς υποστηρίζοντας ότι αποτελούν “μια μορφή εμπορικής αρνητικής διάκρισης”. Η ΕΕ βεβαίως είναι γνωστή για τις πρακτικές εμπορικής διάκρισης που εφαρμόζει και έχουν ως στόχο την προστασία των δικών της παραγωγών, όπως τη διαβόητη απαγόρευση του βοδινού κρέατος που έχει υποστεί επεξεργασία με την ορμόνη 17β-οιστραδιόλη. Αυτού του είδους ο γεωργικός προστατευτισμός είναι πάντα ένα μείζον διαφιλονικούμενο σημείο στις εμπορικές διαπραγματεύσεις, οπότε είναι σίγουρα παράδοξο να αναδεικνύεται από τους ακτιβιστές εναντίον του εμπορίου.

Ο τόνος της έκθεσης υπογραμμίζεται από την παρακάτω δήλωση ενός από τους συγγραφείς της, του Thomas Fritz κατά τη συνέντευξη τύπου της Foodwatch: “Το συμπέρασμά μας είναι ότι λόγω αυτών των Συμφωνιών Ελεύθερου Εμπορίου, το εμπόριο τροφίμων όντως πιθανότατα θα αυξηθεί και μαζί μ’ αυτό θα αυξηθούν και οι κίνδυνοι για τους καταναλωτές και το περιβάλλον”.

Ξεχάστε τις ανησυχίες για τη δημοκρατία, τις δικαστικές διαδικασίες ή ακόμη και τα πρότυπα των τροφίμων: αυτοί οι ακτιβιστές αντιτάσσονται στο ελεύθερο εμπόριο ούτως ή άλλως, γιατί αυξάνει το εμπόριο τροφίμων. Για ποιον ακριβώς “κίνδυνο για τους καταναλωτές” μιλάμε; Τον κίνδυνο των περισσότερων επιλογών; Και σε ποιον ακριβώς “κίνδυνο” εκθέτουμε τους παραγωγούς της Νότιας Αμερικής; Στον κίνδυνο να αυξηθεί η παραγωγή και η οικονομική τους ευημερία;

Να αφήσουμε τον Τραμπ να “κερδίσει”, αψηφώντας τους ακτιβιστές που αντιτάσσονται στο ελεύθερο εμπόριο

Τι θα χρειαζόταν να γίνει για να “κερδίσει” ο Ντόναλντ Τραμπ τον εμπορικό πόλεμο; Ουσιαστικά, ο Τραμπ υποστηρίζει την εξάλειψη όλων των δασμολογικών και μη δασμολογικών φραγμών. Το μόνο που χρειάζεται να κάνει η Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση είναι να πει στον Τραμπ “κέρδισες” και να ανακαλέσει τα ανταποδοτικά μέρα που εισήγαγε στο παρελθόν. Αυτό θα ανοίξει την αγορά προσφέροντας φθηνότερα προϊόντα στους Ευρωπαίους καταναλωτές και θα επιτρέψει στον Τραμπ να προσεγγίσει τον στόχο του μιας βάσης μηδενικών δασμών.

Αυτό όμως δεν πρόκειται να συμβεί καθώς η έννοια της “νίκης” είναι στον ίδιο βαθμό πολιτικοποιημένη στις Βρυξέλλες όσο και σε μια πολιτική συγκέντρωση του Τραμπ. ¨Ετσι, την επόμενη φορά που θα δείτε να γυρίζουν τα μάτια στην Ευρώπη όταν αναφέρεται ο εμπορικός πόλεμος, έχετε κατά νου ότι κι εδώ στη Γηραιά Ήπειρο, η κατάσταση δεν είναι στην πραγματικότητα καλύτερη.

Ο Bill Wirtz είναι Young Voices Advocate και εργάζεται ως αναλυτής πολιτικών στο Consumer Choice Center.

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About Bill Wirtz

Bill Wirtz is policy analyst for the Consumer Choice Center, based in Brussels, Belgium. Originally from Luxembourg, his articles have appeared across the world in English, French, German, and Luxembourgish. He is Editor-in-Chief of Speak Freely, the blog of European Students for Liberty, a contributing editor for the Freedom Today Network and a regular contributor for the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). He blogs regularly on his website in four languages.

Rice tariffs who are we kidding on the EU’s free trade

The European Union introduces tariffs on rice from Cambodia and Myanmar in an effort to protect Italien farmers. Another example of “free trade” à la European Union.

It was announced last Wednesday that tariffs on rice from Cambodia and Myanmar were being re-introduced, in order to fulfil safeguard clauses. The terminology here is telling. European farmers are supposed to be “safeguarded” from foreign competition. It was at the request of Italy the Commission already suggested structural tariffs in November, those starting at €175/tonne in the first year and then progressively dropping to €150 in the second year and €125 in the third year.

Back then, the proposal didn’t find a majority in the Council, and therefore bounced back to Berlaymont, which now confirmed its initial intention. Until now, Cambodia and Myanmar benefitted from the EU’s Everything But Arms (EBA) trade scheme, which unilaterally grants duty-and quota-free access to the world’s least developed countries (apart from arms and ammunition).

Italian MEP Tiziana Beghin said, according to Politico, that she had been fighting for a safeguard to protect Italian farmers since 2014, and said that the news was a “relief” for more than 4,000 enterprises and families.

The Five Star Member of the European Parliament surely completed a smart political move for her constituants, which benefit from new tariffs, or who have been misled into supporting them. More misled however have been those who for the longest time have believed that the goal of the European Union was to be in favour of free trade. What a disappointment that must be.

The European Commission writes in its press release:

“The initial request for trade safeguards on rice imports was tabled by the Italian government in February 2018 and supported by all other EU rice growing Member States (Spain, France, Portugal, Greece, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria).”

It is written in this way because either the Commission has absolutely no notion of what it means to have a vested interest, or because it realises itself that free trade does not exist in the European Union.

While rice-producing member states are naturally lobbied by their local rice farmers, consumers have nobody to speak on their behalf. Too many of the established consumer organizations have nothing to say on tariffs. In fact, it seems all too often that they back the protectionist far-left and far-right positions, in order to “protect jobs” and “support local production”.

To them, consumer prices seem irrelevant. In fact, the European consumer organization BEUC has nothing to say at all about the EU’s re-introduction on rice tariffs. Does it not matter to them that it is low-income consumers who will be hit the hardest by this form of indirect taxation?

This is not the first time this happens. The European Union constantly introduces new tariffs, and many have been added since the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. The reasons are diverse: often it is because the producing country is accused of subsidizing their local economy (which the EU does also through the Common Agricultural Policy), but a safeguard measure can be as blatantly protectionist as in the example of rice imports from Cambodia and Myanmar.

If you were to suggest something similar on a national level, you’d be accused of nationalism. If done on a Brussels-level, it is merely a safeguard.

Protectionism is purely ideological because it is based on sentimental beliefs. If we were to take nationalism out of the picture, it would be difficult to argue that international free trade would be disadvantageous while domestic free trade (say, between cantons or provinces) is advantageous. This is particularly true in large trading blocs such as the European Union. Aren’t French farmers also hurt by imports from Bulgaria?

And if internal subsidization processes of the EU are working to eliminate those differences within the bloc, then how is Bulgaria supposed to rise out of its economic hardships, if nobody can ever compete with Western Europe, make a profit and innovate? And what is the big threat anyway, when cheap food for our consumers is the result?

The price for the economic illiteracy of this entire process is footed by the European consumer, who is told that the Trump’s of the world are the problem with free trade. And while Washington D.C’s trade politics have indeed changed for the worse, they’re unparalleled in their doublespeak by an EU pretending to stand for free trade in the world, while catering to local interests in order to keep the bloc together.

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About Bill Wirtz

Bill Wirtz is policy analyst for the Consumer Choice Center, based in Brussels, Belgium. Originally from Luxembourg, his articles have appeared across the world in English, French, German, and Luxembourgish. He is Editor-in-Chief of Speak Freely, the blog of European Students for Liberty, a contributing editor for the Freedom Today Network and a regular contributor for the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). He blogs regularly on his website in four languages.

Why Europe Should Let Trump “Win” on Trade

All the European Union needs to do is to tell the administration “you won” and drop the retaliatory measures.

The European Union says it’s ready to retaliate against new tariff measures proposed/instituted by the Trump administration. However, letting Trump “win” the trade war would be far smarter.

Trump and Tariffs

Mentioning Trump’s name in Brussels (the capital of the European Union) produces a lot of eye-rolls. Trump is not only unpopular, but he is also regarded as being uninformed at best and having malicious intent at worst. Whether or not those things are accurate is a story for another time, but the trade war debate reveals the level of self-reflection in Europe. Much is said about the tariffs imposed on European goods, and the narrative in Brussels is that the United States started the trade war, forcing the European Union to retaliate.

The fact that the European Union initiated the most important trade barriers didn’t occur to them.

On January 18, the European Union adopted a negotiating mandate for the trade talks with the United States. Brussels announced that every new tariff measure by Washington, DC, would be met with retaliatory tariffs in Europe.

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström warned that if Trump decides to punish Europeans on trade, “we are very advanced in our internal preparations” to retaliate. “Should that happen, we are ready, it would have a very damaging effect on the negotiations,” she said.

What’s Food Got to Do with It?

Between 2010 and 2014, the US and the EU negotiated the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The negotiations ended after considerable public protests in Europe pressured Brussels to break-off the talks. Fear-mongering anti-free trade activists warned the public about the threat of importing goods from the United States, such as GMO foods.

However, importing goods produced to different standards than EU norms does not in the least “undermine” EU standards. Provided consumers are aware of the origin of their products, mutual recognition of standards poses no threat to anyone’s legislation.

report by Foodwatch, a German NGO pretending to stand for consumers, also treats the idea of free trade with contempt. This is well illustrated in a chapter on Mexican trade relations on page 47. The researchers write:

In 2001 Mexico introduced a tax on all soft drinks flavoured with sweeteners other than cane sugar (e.g. with beet sugar or isoglucose, a syrup made from corn or wheat starch). The exception for drinks sweetened with cane sugar protected the country’s own sugar cane production.

They continue by explaining that such taxes are being challenged under WTO trade rules and that industry lobbyists oppose them through the claim of “a form of trade discrimination.” The EU, of course, is well-known for trade discriminatory practices aimed at protecting its own producers, including its famous ban on beef treated with the estradiol-17β hormone.These activists would oppose free trade no matter what because it increases food trade.

Such agricultural protection is always a major sticking point in trade negotiations, so it is certainly an odd point for anti-trade activists to bring up.

The report’s tenor is exemplified by this statement from one of its authors, Thomas Fritz, during the Foodwatch press conference:

Our conclusion is that due to these FTAs [Free Trade Agreements], food trade is indeed likely to grow, along with the risks posed to the consumer and the environment.

Forget concerns about democracy, judicial procedures, or even those of food standards: these activists would oppose free trade no matter what because it increases food trade. “The risk to the consumer”—what risk are we talking about? The risk of falling food prices and increased quality? The risk of expanded choice? And to what “risk” are we exposing the producers in South America to? The risk of increased production and economic prosperity?

Defy Anti-Free Trade Activists, Let Trump “Win”

What would it take for Donald Trump to “win” the trade war? In essence, Trump supports getting rid of all tariff and non-tariff barriers. All the European Union needs to do is to tell the administration “you won” and drop the previously introduced retaliatory measures. This would open the market and provide cheaper goods for European consumers and enable Trump to approach his goal of a zero-tariff basis.

But that isn’t going to happen because the notion of “winning” is as politicized in Brussels as it is during a Trump rally. So next time you receive eye rolls at the mention of the trade war in Europe, recognize that over here on the old continent, we aren’t really any better.

Originally published at https://fee.org/articles/why-europe-should-let-trump-win-on-trade/

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About Bill Wirtz

Bill Wirtz is policy analyst for the Consumer Choice Center, based in Brussels, Belgium. Originally from Luxembourg, his articles have appeared across the world in English, French, German, and Luxembourgish. He is Editor-in-Chief of Speak Freely, the blog of European Students for Liberty, a contributing editor for the Freedom Today Network and a regular contributor for the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). He blogs regularly on his website in four languages.

Sin taxes are taxes on the poor

Nanny-state types know this. They just don’t care.

In Britain, Europe and across the world, taxes on tobacco, alcohol and sugar are used by governments to try to push people into what they deem to be healthier lifestyles.

Indeed, nanny-state policies are infesting Europe through its political institutions. In a recent memo, the European Commission set out plans to get rid of unanimity voting within the European Council on matters of taxation, and introduce qualified-majority voting ‘as a useful tool to progress tax measures’ regarding ‘fighting climate change, protecting the environment or improving public health’.

But ‘improving public health’ is all too often a cover for simply raising taxes on the poorest in society. That so-called sin taxes are regressive isn’t even disputed, as the Institute of Economic Affairs made clear in a report last year. And public-health advocates know this.

The investor and former mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg (net worth: $47 billion), is now ‘global ambassador for noncommunicable diseases’ of the World Health Organisation. He is a vocal advocate of sin taxes on an international level. Last year, his organisation Bloomberg Philanthropies announced a task force to promote lifestyle regulations across the globe, including, among others, the Norwegian minister of health, Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon, and Tabaré Vázquez, president of Uruguay.

In a panel at the International Monetary Fund last year, Bloomberg addressed the question of regressive sin taxes. ‘Some people say, well, taxes are regressive’, he said. ‘But in this case, yes they are. That’s the good thing about them because the problem is in people that don’t have a lot of money.’

IMF managing director and chair Christine Lagarde chipped in at the end of the clip: ‘So it’s regressive, it is good. There are lots of tax experts in the room… And they all say that two things in life which are absolutely certain. One is death, the other one is tax. So you use one to defer the other one.’

‘That’s correct. That is exactly right. Well said’, adds Bloomberg.

Whenever sin taxes are introduced, so-called public-health advocates will always be among those least affected by them – they will still be able to afford as much tobacco, chocolate or alcohol as they like.

That is not the case for the poorest in society: like any other consumption tax, it’s the poor who are most affected by sin taxes, since they spend a larger proportion of their income on these goods, in comparison to higher earners.

Not only are sin taxes deeply patronising, a case of the rich deciding what it is acceptable for the poor to consume; they are also, simply put, socially unjust.

Consumers should be allowed to enjoy themselves. Yes, we should all be made aware of the health risks associated with our lifestyles. But, ultimately, it should be up to each of us to choose for ourselves what we consume.

We need to stick up for this right more than ever. Public-health advocates are now even pushing for taxes on red meat. And they won’t stop there. Nanny-state types always find a new angle through which they might ruin everything that is enjoyable.

Bill Wirtz is a policy analyst for the Consumer Choice Center. Follow him on Twitter: @wirtzbill

Originally published at https://www.spiked-online.com/2019/01/28/sin-taxes-are-taxes-on-the-poor/

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About Bill Wirtz

Bill Wirtz is policy analyst for the Consumer Choice Center, based in Brussels, Belgium. Originally from Luxembourg, his articles have appeared across the world in English, French, German, and Luxembourgish. He is Editor-in-Chief of Speak Freely, the blog of European Students for Liberty, a contributing editor for the Freedom Today Network and a regular contributor for the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). He blogs regularly on his website in four languages.

Das Luftballonverbot hilft Schildkröten nur wenig

Das Europäische Parlament hat mit überwältigender Mehrheit am 24. Oktober für ein Verbot von vielen Produkten gestimmt, die aus Einwegplastik hergestellt werden. So sollen zum Beispiel ab dem Jahr 2021 Einwegteller und Besteck aus Plastik, sowie Q-Tips oder Luftballonhalter verboten werden. Ferner sollen Hersteller vieler Einwegprodukte direkt für die Entsorgung dieser Produkte zahlen, obgleich sie keine umweltschonende Entsorgung garantieren können, da dies vom Verbraucher abhängt. Dieser entscheidet ja ob er seinen Abfall fachgerecht entsorgt oder einfach auf die Straße oder den nächsten Fluss schmeißt.

Die Verschmutzung der Ozeane ist ein großes Problem und es ist sehr richtig, dass Zivilgesellschaft und Politik nach Lösungen suchen. Verschmutzte Strände und verletzte Meerestiere müssen der Vergangenheit angehören. Doch die aktuellen Pläne der Europaparlamentarier werden leider nur wenig helfen.

Ein wenig beachteter Fakt ist, dass lediglich 2% aller Plastikverschmutzung in unseren Ozeanen von der EU und den USA verursacht werden. Allein der südostasiatische Staat Myanmar trägt mehr zur Belastung der Weltmeere mit Plastik bei als die ganze Europäische Union. Und obwohl die USA gerne als Buhmann in der Umweltpolitik gesehen werden, schmeisst selbst das ärmliche Nordkorea mehr Plastik ins Meer als die größte Volkswirtschaft der Welt.

Die Länder, die die Meere am meisten verschmutzen zeichnen sich meist dadurch aus, dass sie nur sehr geringe Umweltauflagen und Eigentumsrechte haben. Anstelle ganze Produktreihen und Materialien in Europa zu verbieten, sollten sich unsere Anstrengungen eher darauf konzentrieren gewisse Standards und Eigentumsrechte in Ländern wie China, Indonesien und Brasilien zu bewerben. Forscher des Helmholtz Zentrum für Umweltforschung haben berechnet, dass die zehn Flusssysteme mit der höchsten Plastikfracht alle in Entwicklungsländern liegen und für circa 90 Prozent des globalen Plastikeintrags ins Meer verantwortlich sind. Der Hydrogeologe Dr. Christian Schmidt sagt dazu treffend:

“Wenn es in Zukunft gelingt, den Plastikeintrag aus den Einzugsgebieten dieser Flüsse zu halbieren, wäre schon sehr viel erreicht. Dafür muss das Abfallmanagement verbessert und das Bewusstsein der Bevölkerung sensibilisiert werden.”

In Europa wird schon sehr viel recycelt und Anreize einen noch höheren Anteil an Kunststoffen zu recyclen sind sicherlich richtig. Politiker sollten sich dafür einsetzen, dass Abfall fachgerecht entsorgt wird und Bürger, die Abfall einfach in die Landschaft, auf die Straße, oder in den Fluss schmeißen sollten stärker sanktioniert werden. Warum sollten alle Nutzer von Plastikprodukten bestraft werden nur weil einige unsere Umwelt einfach sorglos verschmutzen? Plastik selber ist noch das Problem, sondern der Mangel an richtiger Entsorgung. Sollten wir also den kleinen Beitrag Europas an der globalen Verschmutzung noch weiter verringern wollen, wäre die Sanktionierung von verschmutzendem Verhalten das beste Instrument dafür.

Der große Hebel liegt jedoch in der Implementierung von besseren Umweltstandards und Eigentumsrechten in Entwicklungsländern. Daher sollte man gleichzeitig die Erteilung von Entwicklungshilfe und anderen diplomatische Vorteilen an die bessere Einhaltung von Umweltstandards und dem Erreichen von Meilensteinen in der Reduzierung von Plastikverschmutzung binden. Dies würde deutlich mehr für Meerestiere wie Schildkröten tun als das Verbieten von Luftballons auf Kindergeburtstagen und Einweggeschirrs auf spontanen Grillfeiern.

Originally published at https://www.huffingtonpost.de/entry/das-luftballonverbot-hilft-schildkroten-nur-wenig_de_5bd33c09e4b04d1f9a5582fb?ec_carp=1241855872677410206

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About Fred Roeder

Fred Roder has been working in the field of grassroots activism for over eight years. He is a Health Economist from Germany and has worked in healthcare reform and market access in North America, Europe, and several former Soviet Republics. One of his passions is to analyze how disruptive industries and technologies allow consumers more choice at a lower cost. Fred is very interested in consumer choice and regulatory trends in the following industries: FMCG, Sharing Economy, Airlines. In 2014 he organized a protest in Berlin advocating for competition in the Taxi market. Fred has traveled to 100 countries and is looking forward to visiting the other half of the world’s countries. Among many op-eds and media appearances, he has been published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Wirtschaftswoche, Die Welt, the BBC, SunTV, ABC Portland News, Montreal Gazette, Handelsblatt, Huffington Post Germany, CityAM. L’Agefi, and The Guardian. Since 2012 he serves as an Associated Researcher at the Montreal Economic Institute.