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CSEAC: (#001) Agreement on Common Trade

Vistarika

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Forced to marshal every bit of self control he had to school his own expression at the mention of uranium, Carderici was almost shocked to glance over to his superior and find Birodeins openly scowling, brow furrowed and thick jaw firmly. Blessed Virgin, he thought, Gideon is going into apoplexy.

Despite that, and the progressive reddening of the elder Vistaran's face, Carderici was pleasantly surprised to find Birodeins holding it together and listening well. Subtle narrowing and deepening of the Lord-Councilor's eyes and crows feet conveyed the only information available from his persistent scowl. Wait, was that a nod shared with Bertone?

No opportunity to pry now, the Deputy was again surprised when Birodeins deigned not to weigh in verbally, choosing instead to flip out of his phone and jab a quick text out to Schmelzer, "Dr, we both know that uranium is very expensive."
 

Eiffelland

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Dr. Schmelzer texted back to Birodeins: "Hello Gideon, I know that Uranium is important to your country, but at this moment I don't know if you have objections against putting it on the list of products under free trade. Do you actually have objections against adding uranium to that list?"

He was also concerned with Birodeins's health. The man had definitely a good reputation, but it was clear that his health was too bad to sustain a conference like this. Why was a man with such a bad health condition sent on a mission like this? In Eiffelland, he would never have been made Lord Councilor, or at least have been provided with gas bottles of oxygen.

He turned to the conference again: "Dear colleagues, I would like to come back on what I suggested earlier to put on the list of free trade products: On second thought, I think it would be better to not put uranium on the list of products under free trade."

OOC 1: As far as I know, nuclear weapons are still banned. Or did something change here?

OOC 2: Originally, the first paragraph of this post was:
Dr. Schmelzer texted back to Birodeins: "Dear Lord Councilor Birodeins, I am very much aware of the price of uranium. However, please bear in mind that I make suggestions. I am not dictating what to do, I make suggestions. If you have objections against adding uranium to the list of items under free trade, please phrase them."
 
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Remion

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Remove uranium from the list? Is this another Eiffelland joke to punish Remion? Since the Great War ended that the territories facing the sea of Kirmizi are in foreign hands. Territories rich in materials, including the open-pit uranium mines that supply the Remion power plants. The politicians sitting in the Senate do not like having to pay duties on something that would belong to Tibur by right.

"Uranium is essential for the production of electricity and for scientific-medical research, its permanence in the list would drastically lower its cost and benefit end consumers, citizens and research itself. We would be deeply disappointed to see such an important element for our energy independence removed from the list."
- Federico Bertone
 

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The bickering continued, over such novel things, egos were inflated and the air stank of disagreement. Deputy Foreign Minister Sharshin leaned over to his Shugurov his Kurk counterpart in these meetings and whispered; "These politicians, these western idealists will never come to any sort of agreement. Be best to slap it out onto the table with this pissing contest"

He paused, looked around the room some more reading the faces of everyone here. Without hesitation, not caring whom he would interrupt addressed the room.

"Gentleman, it is quite clear that nobody here, even over the simplest of things can come to an agreement. My role was simply to come here, and be an observer as we were invited to be for the foundation of this group to see if our interest would be to join. I can say, with the greatest likelihood my great nation would have no interest here. The egos of your nations, and yourselves, proves this greater good strive for cannot be obtained, only agreement that could be reached now was if you all had your throats under a boot. I am done here and shall now be leaving to report back home."

As he began his stride towards the doors, he could see the look on the faces of many by his last comment. However it couldn't be the furthest thing from the truth.
 

Eiffelland

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Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Schmelzer was quite shocked by the way Deputy Foreign Minister Sharshin disappeared. But indeed also he was disappointed about the difficulties seen at the table here. Shaped by the necessity to always form coalition governments due to an election system that would only end up in an absolute majority for one single party when that single party really obtained an absolute majority of the votes, he was used to closing compromises and not always getting your complete political programme realised.
But closing compromises also required the willingness to close compromises. And that was something he was frustrated about with Bertone. It was one thing that the man felt resentment about the fact that Remion had lost its colonies, but Schmelzer did have made a move towards the Remian with his explanation about what state support should aim for and what it should not aim for. Schmelzer had given a handle to Bertone to at least get the toxic part out of the state support. But Bertone just didn't want to grab it, and simply started to sulk because he couldn't get a complete ban on state support on the table. He apparently did not understand that at a certain moment you have to be happy with 70% of your wishes, because insisting on getting 100% of your wishes could lead to ending up with getting 0% of your wishes.

"Minister Bertone, I know that uranium is an energy source and an important substance for medical purposes. The problem is, that it is also an important military substance. Submarines and ships use it as fuel as well," he said.

He took a sip of his glass, that was filled with water. An Eiffellandian did not combine work with alcohol, except for business lunches and business dinners, or when the Eiffellandian in question was a bartender.

"I would like to request a short break for, let's say, 30 minutes," he continued.

Then he texted to Birodeins: "Dear Lord Councilor Birodeins, when this short break is approved, I would like to discuss the uranium matter with you."
 

Bajorország

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The Bajorók delegation was rather shocked. Such an insult from the Tarusans was really non-sense. He stood up as the Eiffellanders mentioned the need for a break. “I can see why the Alexandrian Wars were fought, and I am glad that all of us still here can faithly claim themselves victors! Even our friends from Kurkhazia.” He chuckled trying to defuse the uproar.

“We shall adjourn for 30 minutes and try to come to terms there after. This process will not be easy, but we are all here because we agree that cooperation is the best future for all our nations. We will figure this out, and we will all be better for it, even if it is not today, but tomorrow.” Banging a gavel to give a sense of order, everyone stood up and began to organize themselves for the more private conversations they wanted to have.
 

Eiffelland

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Dr. Schmelzer said to his aide Jean-Marc Vissart: "Herr Vissart, you speak Tiburan, correct? Could you please go to Minister Bertone? I will tell you what to discuss. I will go to Lord Councilor Birodeins."

Dr. Schmelzer was in the beginning of his fifties. He had black eyes, and black greying hair that he kept short, and his body was athletic. He wore what could be considered the standard outfit of Eiffellandian diplomats: Black shoes, black socks, a white shirt of thick cloth so that it was not translucent and a grey suit that was not too dark but definitely not too light either. His tie was of dark blue silk. He walked to Lord Councilor Birodeins in an energetic pace.

"Lord Councilor Birodeins, could we talk please?" he asked to Birodeins. "I think that Minister Bertone from Remion has a valid point with his remarks on uranium. Indeed, it is essential for the generation of electricity, and for certain medical treatments. On the other hand, it is a strategic resource, like I explained earlier. I don't think it will benefit anyone if we deprive Remion from an important energy source, so the country should keep access to uranium at a reasonable price according to me. But what are your thoughts exactly?"

Lord Councilor Gideon Birodeins and Minister Dr. Norbert Schmelzer were Duzfreunde, so normally they would say "Gideon" and "Norbert" to each other, but Schmelzer considered it better not to do so in the vicinity of Birodeins's aides.

Jean-Marc Vissart was a young diplomat working at the Eiffellandian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He was at this conference with the rank of Ambassador. He was 33 years old, was from the only French-speaking province of Eiffelland, had an athletic body, and had the unique combination of light brown eyes and light blonde hair. Also he wore black shoes, black socks, a white shirt of thick cloth and a grey suit of the same colour as Schmelzer's suit. The only thing male Eiffellandian diplomats could vary with, was the tie: He wore a tie with thin dark blue and red stripes. And maybe the fact that the tie was the only thing male Eiffellandian diplomats could vary their clothing with was the reason why an Eiffellandian diplomat would never wear a suit without tie.

"Minister Bertone, could we talk please? I think it is needed that we get a concensus leading to a situation that will benefit everyone on the long term," he said, making an effort to choose his words in such a way that a recording of them could not be manipulated into something he never said.
 
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Remion

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Bertone was busy choosing the fragrance of his coffee, strictly Remion blends, which according to the minister himself, were far more refined in flavor and intensity than the native ones. Jean-Marc Vissart's words in Modern Tiburan left Bertone intrigued, after all he did not expect anyone to speak Modern Tiburan so far from the Republic.

"I don't think I know you, Mr.? Are you together with the delegation of the Ministry Dr. Schmelzer from Eiffelland, right?"
Simple and concise questions was Bertone's way.
 

Eiffelland

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"Please accept my apologies, Minister Bertone. Indeed, I should have introduced myself first. My name is Jean-Marc Vissart. I am indeed part of the delegation of Minister Dr. Schmelzer, with the rank of Ambassador," Vissart said. "It is our intention to make sure that this conference becomes a success, and that the CSEAC becomes a success. Let's look at this conference's main point of discussion in a different way. Is it really the state support that is a problem, or is it toxic market manipulations in general? We think it is the latter: Toxic market manipulations in general. One example of that is price dumping, i.e. putting products on the market far below the cost price to push competitors off the market. No matter how it is financed, price dumping is a problem. I think we should focus on that instead of on state support."
 

Vistarika

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Birodeins couldn't have rolled his eyes any harder or more dramatically at the antics of the Tarusan, Sharshin. "Once savages, always savages," the elder statesman whispered to his aid. For his part, Carderici agreed and could but nod. "Even here and now they wield their barbarism as a cudgel, none the wiser that they cut off their own nose to spite their face."

Birodeins nodded sagely, but was already glancing down to his phone. Though his expression only just slipped from the sour mask the Easterners had inspired, the Lord Councilor was clearly pleased with something. Wordlessly, he tilted the screen that his assistant might see for himself, earning an altogether unrestrained smile from Carderici. "Very good, my Lord, you navigate this Tiburine* morass as deftly as ever."

Birodeins responded to Dr. Schmelzer by way of the most subtle of nods, Carderici amazed at the quiet manner in which his boss was building upon the long association he had with his Eiffellander counterpart, and the trust borne from it. The two could not be more different, but they understood each other, and much good had and would come from that before their working relationship drew to close.

Many matters of note had been brought before this tenuous body today thus far, but the issue of uranium had swiftly and firmly established itself as paramount for the Apostolic Kingdom's representatives, though it would take quite some bit of doing to get them to admit to that fact. That Vistarika mined uranium from somewhere was known - but where exactly was and would for some while yet still remain a mystery to the wider world.** Some common cause and not inconsiderable profit could be made with both Eiffelland and Remion as a result, if they were careful.

That Tarusa was and would continue to loom darkly over the talks, as so much else, was perhaps as important. A definite pattern was beginning to emerge before the eyes of His Apostolic Majesty's Councilors - Birodeins among them, and it was altogether not to their liking.



*Tiburine = Byzantine, in the sense of complex bureaucracy that can be difficult to navigate
**the source of Vistarikan uranium is actually Tiwanaku, in particular the troubled Southern Department; it is likely that Remion sells more uranium, but Vistarika still has some and does a bit of wheeling and dealing with it here and there as a result.
 
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Remion

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"Mr. Vissart, your argument is not entirely wrong, but it lacks a fundamental factor, our total disinterest in being part of a halfway system. A saying in classical Tiburan has always distinguished the vision of remion; "Melius est abundare quam deficer". Our politicians are not interested in the crumbs thrown at them, they prefer to aim for whole bread. CSEAC is an interesting project, but it lacks political vision. A common market where there are no bodies for its control and administration? There are too many questions and few clear answers, it seems a project of good intentions, but of bad application. Too many interests, too many different nations." Bertone also answered unasked questions, after all he loved to chat and give his opinion on everything, even when not asked.
 

Eiffelland

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"I totally agree with you that the CSEAC cannot come to its full strength without controlling mechanisms, Signore Ministro. And indeed, then we need bodies for control and administration. But you also heard the response regarding violation of sovereignty by Minister Plesic from Serbovia. That is an argument we have to counter effectively," Vissart said to Minister Bertone.
 

Remion

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The story of sovereignty was always the best story to tell when you don't want an international project to take hold. Serbovia was certainly not the neighbor Remion wanted, but he was there and remion had to adapt.
"Serbovia is only a marginal problem. Sovereignty must be given up if you want to be part of an agreement that includes several nations within it with different interests. There are two ways, either to be founders or to join them later and adapt to the existing rules. Having said that, I also find it hard to find something that can bring all these nations together to come to an agreement. Ethnicity, religion, ideas and even ways of behaving are different. Some seem not to have even received the basic manual for international relations. Non puoi vestire un maiale e farlo passare per diplomatico.*" Bertone said looking at the empty position left by the delegation of Deputy Foreign Minister Sharshin

You can't dress a pig to make it look like a Diplomatic!*
 

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Karim Shugarov gripped his seat by the fingernails as the Tarusans left, all eyes paying him and the Kurhkhazians an expectant glance soon after. Tarusans workers were not bribing him however, Shugarov reminded himself comfortably, it was the kickback of thousands of remittance workers that he and he Republic of Kurkhazia yearned after. Karim's eyes glazed at the idea of becoming the middleman between Eiffelland, Pannonian, and Remonian industries and dirt cheap Kurkhazian labor.

"I am no senior diplomat or patriarch from my country, but what I fear is that if we do not sew peaceful knots today - violence splinters will yet again separate this continent's nations away from another joyful decade of peace."

Shugarov welcomed the recess and then remained silent through further proceedings. He was, after all, a plant of Kurhkhazian labor interest - and not a functionary of any particular industry. He may bite on major construction projects or highways, but the disposition of uranium truly disinterested and baffled young Shugarov.
 

Eiffelland

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Non puoi vestire un maiale e farlo passare per diplomatico.
"You're perfectly right, Signore Ministro," Vissart chuckled. Then he continued more seriously: "I agree with you that giving up a bit of sovereignty is essential for closing an agreement between countries. Eiffelland is prepared to do so, because it sees the benefits that will emerge from this deal. Furthermore, we can stress that we are not giving up sovereignty to a foreign entity, but giving it up by means of agreeing wih several foreign entities on how all those foreign entities are going to do things. So you give up a part of your own sovereignty, but get parts of the others' sovereignty in return."
 

Bajorország

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In the mean time Kásmér Széchényi observed the discussions and waited. He felt the iron was hot and ready to strike. That being strike a deal with Eiffelland and Remion. It was becoming obvious to him that in order to get this deal to work with Remion on board he’d have to come up with with mechanisms far more complex than he initially wanted. This was of course ok, he had the full authority to do whatever it took to get a deal done.

He was not sure if he should take the lead but piped up a sly remark, “Should I get my men onto the task of formulating some kind of organizational mechanisms for our trade agreement? Or do you all have something else prepared?”
 

Eiffelland

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After the delegations of Remion, Vistarika and Eiffelland had come to an agreement, Schmelzer went to his microphone.

"Minister Széchényi, the delegations of Remion, Vistarika and Eiffelland would like to propose the following for the CSEAC:

  1. A free-trade agreement between the memberstates, with or without a list of products falling under the free trade agreement, or maybe even a list of products not falling under the free trade agreement.
  2. The prohibition of price-dumping, i.e. putting products on the market far below cost price to push competitors off the market.
  3. State support is only allowed to maintain an industry deemed essential to the safety of the country, or to bail out a company or group of companies considered essential to the country or even the world. Examples of a company or group of companies considered essential include but are not limited to a bank that fulfils such a pivotal role in money tranfer that money transfer would not be possible or at least be in serious danger without this bank, or companies whose downfall would seriously jeopardise the supply of food or essential biomedical products, or a group of companies whose downfall would make millions of people jobless at an instance.
  4. The establishment of an organisation where disputes about the points 2 and 3 can be investigated and discussed out.

The reason why the organisation in point 4 is needed, is that otherwise we will continuously have to set up ad-hoc committees each time we see a possible case of price-dumping or a state support that potentially does not fulfil the conditions in point 3. These ad-hoc committees will not always have the needed knowledge. When we establish an organisation overlooking the points 2 and 3, we can concentrate the knowledge needed to check for price dumping and disallowed kinds of state support in that organisation.
We have heard the concern about giving up sovereignty, but basically when several countries close an agreement on something, they will give up a bit of sovereignty anyway, because they can't deviate from that agreement. A country which wants to be fully sovereign, can't close international agreements.
We also want to make clear that countries closing this deal will get something in return for the bit of sovereignty they give up: Prosperity, and a bit of sovereignty over the other countries, because the sovereignty you give up will also be given up by the other countries.

And now that I'm thinking of it, I have to say something on my own behalf.
If we follow this path, we also have to think of what to do when an individual CSEAC-member wants to individually close a trade deal with another country. This because we have to avoid that a country only has to close a deal with on CSEAC-member to have free-trade access to all CSEAC-members.
The simplest solution would be that deals can only closed with the CSEAC as a whole.
An alternative would be to stipulate that a CSEAC-member can close trade deals with third countries on its own, but that the products of those third countries can only be traded freely in that CSEAC-memberstate. But such a rule can be easily circumvented: If a car from The Federation gets another paint in a CSEAC-membercountry, is it a product from The Federation or a product from that CSEAC-membercountry? To avoid this kind of disputes, my preference would be to go with the option that trade deals with third countries can only be closed with the CSEAC as a whole.
With emphasis, I did not discuss this last idea about closing trade deals with third countries. This is something I just thought of.
"
 

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"Excellent observation, which should not be taken for granted, so we present our point of view. If a nation wants to enter into the CSEAC commercial area, it must do so by negotiating simultaneously with the all CSEAC, which must agree unanimously. Individual members will therefore be free to negotiate other trade agreements on their own. To avoid the problem of third country goods sold within the CSEAC area, we can agree that a product is CSEAC certified, when 50% + 1 of its components originate from a member country of the same CSEAC organization.

Let's take for example a food product and a non-food product; A pasta produced with grains originating from two countries, one of which is CSEAC, then to be distributed within the common market it must have 51% of CSEAC origin wheat, while 49% can also be external.
The same downstream for automotive production, as long as 51% of the parts are produced within the CSEAC, the vehicle will be duty free."


Bertono took a second pause and limited himself to taking a sip of water, without leaving the word to the other members.

"Fifty percent plus one in our opinion is more than enough to allow companies the freedom to procure materials and spare parts, without risking the expulsion of their products from the CSEAC area."
 
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