In 1776, the same year as the Declaration of Independence, Adam Smith looked forward to a time when Great Britain and America would sign a “treaty of commerce”, one which would be “more advantageous to the great body of the people.”
In 2000, Britain faces a simpler choice. Should we keep trying to argue for an end to “ever closer union”, knowning that this has little chance of success? Or should we consider renegotiating the terms of our membership of the EU, while exploring the possibility of joing another club whose rules and members’ behaviour are more congenial?
This paper compares the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the eleven “founding” members of the European Monetary Union (Euroland). It does not touch on political, legal or constitutional issues pertaining to the UK’s membership of the EU. However, it does suggest that for the UK, in trading terms alone, NAFTA represents a better environment than Euroland.Investigating the possibility of signing a “treaty of commerce” between NAFTA and the UK can therefore only be considered prudent. Should, at any stage in the future, the burdens of EU membership become intolerable, an attractive alternative to the EU is available.