You think it’s all over….But what about “Planed Board with slightly rounded long sides” ?

Well it is now. Or so we are told. Well another General Election is. And probably the EU withdrawal agreement. Oh and another decade, plus Christmas for another twelve months. So it’s a bit more than just ‘it’s‘. Get it, it’s all over ….

But it isn’t . It’s only just started . The devil is in the detail, and there is a devilish amount of detail. I don’t just want to rant on about Brexit negotiations, all negotiations are detailed and complex . Flogging party stuff, like what we do , should be pretty straightforward. Like..

Morning ‘Guv’ ‘ere’s my bit of red, white, and blue bunting (please note this subtle tale of patriotism) is ten metres long and costs ‘nuppence’ . ‘Ow much would you like ?

‘Guv’ replies ‘sod off’ or ‘ send me bucket loads ‘.

But it isn’t , Straightforward that is. In some cases it has taken five years to get to the ‘bucket loads’ bit.

So when it comes to something like trade negotiations. There is just a little more detail. The following is an extract from a paper relating to some negotiating over various grey areas within tariff classifications.

Tariff classification of Planed board with slightly rounded long sides (TAXUD/3177523/2019)

Classification as “wood sawn or chipped lengthwise, sliced or peeled, whether or not planed” under heading 4407? Or classification as “wood … continuously shaped (tongued, grooved, rebated, chamfered, v jointed, beaded, moulded, rounded or the like) along any of its edges, ends or faces, whether or not planed” under heading 4409?

 

This particular extract is one paragraph out of a page and a half on this one product, from a document over one hundred and fifty pages covering a load of incidentals about stuff of which is little known by man nor beast. The point being, this is just a tiny window into the enormous complexity that is commonly referred to as international trade talks.

I don’t want to rant on about the U.K. Government’s up and coming trade talks with the EU plus the ninety odd countries that it needs just to replace existing agreements. There is no point as it now just has to be done . I just feel when I read this ‘simple’ extract, it was a perfect illustration of the complexities of any negotiations. With tariff codes, for those that don’t know there is a product title number then below this there are series of sub sets . Simples !

The HS (Harmonised System) comprises approximately 5,300 article/product descriptions that appear as headings and subheadings, arranged in 99 chapters, grouped in 21 sections

Now that’s only products, it does not include services, nor intellectual property, data and load of constituent parts to various market places. What is more it only identifies a description of a product , and has nothing to do with any product standard. But I feel a rant coming , so I shall move on.

Many commercial negotiations seem on the surface, to be unnecessarily complex. Yet, particularly in larger organisations, there are many ‘Ts’ to be crossed and ‘Is’ dotted. For example, and this is a gross oversimplification and generalisation, you may have a product accepted at the lowest level within an organisation. This, then,may go to committee or at very least senior manager to approve. The next step is for it to be accepted by the merchandising department. This is to make sure it fits in store, both physically and philosophically. Then, after that, come logistics. They ensure that it can be distributed effectively throughout the estate. If this is all ok, Quality control will ensure it meets all relevant legal and ethical standards. Within this process there will some involvement from finance, to ensure that there are the resources to take this product. And that is by no means the end of the story. The organisation will at some point have to decide if it worth going through all this for just one product. The answer to that is generally ‘No’. Consequently, if you are fortunate enough to get a range selected, there will be appropriate form filling for every individual item, to satisfy every department in that chain .

Easy peezey, it is not. Oven ready it is not. Straightforward it is not. So when politicians, journalists, media types, so called experts, plus a big chunk of our population, rant on about any negotiation should be very simple and straightforward, need think again or at the very least consider the issues concerning planed board, with slightly rounded long sides….

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