At a time when we are looking very closely at our relationship with the EU, perhaps we should also be looking at our relationship with the planet.
The current issue is how we leave the EU. The vote made it quite clear, however, some of the less focused outcomes using our Irish vulnerabilities as red herrings would lock us into a long term treaty with the EU. Basically, the only thing that changes is that we have zero say in the future. If this is the outcome, our stance on a whole range of global issues would become irrelevant because we simply would have no voice. Let’s hope that is not the result at the end of March.
I am not making a case to stay or leave, just one of common sense. Should America wish to continue its special relationship, it would be 99% EU and 1% UK as things seem to stand at the moment. This means we would have no voice on, for example, changing agricultural arrangements, which the world generally agrees are broken. So let’s for one minute assume that the obvious to everyone in the industry is that hard Brexit is not hard. It is simply WTO terms, there will be no queues because 98% of all traffic clears customs electronically and with electronic intelligence and the sky is not going to fall on our heads. It will be business as usual in Ireland, both sides of the border, and everywhere else as well in fact.
Back in the 70s when the EU got going, for us things were different, we have terrible money and currency issues and a whole range of black and dying industries. We have been through that pain and our trade position in Europe was invaluable and a substantial aspect of our export and import market, in fact around 60% of it. The thing is that then the rest of the world was asleep, China was a closed market and Japan’s best kept secret and Africa was inaccessible and its resources were several days ride by Landrover over some pretty inhospitable country. I remember my boss telling me that there were 3 signs of civilisation (not globalisation!) : Scotch whisky, Coca-Cola and Marlborough Cigarettes. A tractor was a giant gear box on wheels, could barely handle a plough and Monsanto Chemical was struggling against regulations just as it is today. Intensive farming was just getting going and a battery was either a military term or something you put in a torch. I can still remember stooking especially in the Lake District and Scotland and Everest had only just been climbed! Today over 4,000 people have climbed it over 7,000 times. Is it getting easier to climb I wonder, or are we just getting better at it?
Today the EU is shrinking to 40 % of our trade and the global economy has expanded and is well on its way to being 60% of our future trading business. Globalisation has replaced Civilisation but we seemingly are voiceless and shackled to the EU, as things seem to stand at the moment.
Is Trading with America the Answer?
We have an excellent relationship with the USA, with whom we seem to agree on most things (we should do, they still run many of our old overseas bases!). I think we share the same outlook on global warming and planet damage, although to read the press you could be forgiven for not thinking we do. We are one of the world’s greatest military powers and America’s 7th largest trading partner and with a surplus too. We are a G7 nation and in the top ten economies of the world. That makes us kind of important, it also doesn’t make much sense for us to be left without influence. Nobody voted for that!
The next 80 years are going to be critical to our own human survival on this planet as a species, with climate change and the rapid decline in Eco-structure. So what all this means is that we need to control how we live and to do that we need a voice and the ability to make unilateral decisions without reference to a higher authority other than our own crown, of which we really need to retain control be not hand it over to the Babel politics. We have struggled to clean up our own waste, however agricultural side effects are starting to hit home as is our love for Carbon fuels.
John Deere already has an all-electric tractor, They are an American company, as are Hyster who make the biggest container handling and forklift trucks, they already use electric technology. Elon Musk is in to China, Europe and the USA and electric HGVs are about to be rolled out.
Environmentally-friendly Initiatives to Benefit the UK
On the plant and insect front there are a number of initiatives on both sides of the pond to control crop pests without wiping out the insect populations indiscriminately.
Washington State University scientist John Reganold (as part of an international team) found that nearly one-third of the world’s farms have adopted more environmentally friendly practices while continuing to be productive. Europe and specifically the UK could benefit from the freedom to work on initiatives like this. They could easily be introduced to our world of farming. Whereas the EU driven policies leave vast tracts of our countryside either baron chemical wastelands or over-run with subsidised sheep. America threw out its set aside in the ‘70s, then the EU found it in the ‘80s and imposed it on us. It really is a truly awful agricultural mess.
There are also so many other initiatives where we have common ground and a will to develop mutually convenient trading policies which both integrate and include other nations in initiatives which develop the planet responsibly.
One of the great things about our Islands is the rich eclectic mix of people and nationalities who have come together over the centuries to be united in our kingdom. The understandings and learnings place us well internationally to undertake sensitive initiatives. As a single voice and a powerful nation we could be leading the field and promoting technology on a global basis which makes farming friendly and all of us less dependant on carbon fuels.
China and the USA have over 27% of the wind turbine companies listed in the global industry, we had a turbine industry back in the 80’. We were well ahead of our time, but there was no political will or enough leverage from us. Siemens seems to have taken over leaving us behind, although to be fair they have invested in the UK. If we could be free to strike our own deals then we have a ready and willing materials handling industry with a strong and creative service sector well able to deliver on the manufacturing and technological support. We still have Street Crane company to support the manufacturing processes, should they build in the UK.
This is the time not to hold back and wait, but to work on the business. Give us a shout if you need advice on your current storage solutions, warehouse premises and material handling equipment.
Export and import trade with the USA across 20 key Industrial Classifications shows optimistic and consistent growth for the medium term, we could be supporting this with our industries quite independently of the EU and without the need for any stifling manacles to prevent us participating with our own bilateral and favoured nation status.
Since the USA has pulled out of the Paris accord, the time is ripe to start again on a deliverable future for the next generation to take forward.
Written by a Material Handling Hub correspondent Paul Casebourne