Custom Unions and Common Markets as Economic Security Fault Lines. The Garlic Case
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Paladini, S. (2019) ‘6. Custom unions and common markets as economic security fault lines. The garlic case’, in A. De Ruyter and B. Nielsen (eds) Brexit Negotiations After Article 50: Assessing Process, Progress and Impact. Emerald Publishing Limited, pp. 113–130. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1108/978-1-78769-765-220191007.
One of the most heated discussions regarding Brexit is over the nature of any future trade deal the UK is going to sign with the EU. There have been endless discussions since the referendum result about this crucial aspect question and nothing has been so far agreed. Some analysts, however, have already pointed to a series of issues that anything different from the status quo could cause. The case analysed in the following pages serves as a cautionary tale, and there is an important reason for that. It is a good illustration of the issues that can emerge when countries are members of some forms of regional associations but not of others and whose consequences can produce spill-overs from pure trade matters to more serious security concerns. It is not very often that something as common as the import and export of agricultural products – especially non-exotic fruits and vegetables – becomes the object of such a dispute across multiple states. This is what happened in the now infamous case of Chinese garlic exports, which have seen several instances of smuggling, conviction, and fraud all over Europe in the last 20 years. Most incidents have taken place in Northern Europe, particularly Sweden, Norway, the UK and Ireland. There's a reason for that, which will be explained below.