onsdag 1 november 2017

Let them export jam

Boris Johnson has been endlessly ridiculed for saying that Brexit Britain can live by exporting home-made jam.

I am not sure what his exact words were, but the those who ridicule have missed the point. "Jam" is a shorthand way of referring to specialist, upmarket niche products with a touch of snob appeal. They are something which the UK does very well; many retail products from the UK on sale in Continental Europe fall into this category.

Being in this market segment avoids head-on competition with Germany, where the UK is always at a disadvantage due to the added transport costs, which are a disadvantage of being on an island. Dover and Cheriton are in the extreme bottom right-hand corner of the country, whilst Harwich and Felixtowe, although better placed for Britain's industrial centres, involve a six hour crossing, plus another two or three loading and unloading; the crew of two have to be paid whilst sitting on board the ferry. The German manufacturer can do the delivery in one door-to-door movement.

This is the kind of thing that comes under the heading of "jam", in this shop in Gothenburg. The goods are Spode, Wedgwood, Portmeirion, Royal Doulton, Denby. It is not a trivial business.

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