BBC | GA4 | The United Kingdom leads efforts on inclusivity in global trade by reducing nautical borders to create shared economic zones

October 15th, 2019 | In order to promote economic equity, the United Kingdom, along with the Russian Federation, the Republic of South Korea, and Lebanon, have proposed creating “shared economic zones” by reducing maritime free trade restrictions and limiting the nautical boundaries of countries that border the sea. When proposed, this idea garnered an extreme reaction from the other countries in GA4. “It’s an interesting plan to shrink [the nautical boundaries], it could lead to more trade,” the delegate from the United Arab Emirates said. “But their idea could also become a source of conflict and tension.” This sentiment was shared by countries who saw this proposal, which was a clause in draft resolution 1.1, as an infringement on their sovereignty. For countries like Venezuela, which has recently been affected by embargoes enforced by the United States, the economic loss was too great a risk to support it. The delegate from Venezuela also mentioned how, because the United States is a sponsor of the resolution, she questions their motivations and is not interested in supporting them in any way. 

For countries like Pakistan, a resolution that creates shared economic zones would be detrimental, as they benefit from China’s control of the South China Sea. To reduce the exclusivity of these valuable economic zones that are allotted to well-funded nations like China would derail the global economy, according to the Pakistani delegate. The delegate from Iran is a supporter of the proposal because she envisions crowding shared economic zones with her own ships, seeing that the draft resolution does not specify how many ships can be present in one shared economic zone. “As Iran, we generally have the power to exploit it. If it’s shared, you bet I’m going to use it,” she said. However, the sponsors of the draft resolution say that other countries, whether supporters or not, are misinterpreting not only the intent of the shared economic zones, but also how the boundaries will be defined.  “It’s reduced in the sense that no any one country owns it, it’s not overlapping territories,” the delegate from the Russian Federation, who is a sponsor of the resolution, said. The resolution would recognize international territories as 12 kilometers away from the shore instead of 22, which still allows the bordering countries to claim the natural resources close to their domain. 

While this change is only a clause, the United Kingdom’s delegate’s goal with the entire paper is “creating a comprehensive plan that considers all aspects” in order to amend current United Nations’ policies on the Law of the Seas. It establishes new international boundaries to create pathways for disadvantaged nations to participate in global affairs. “Free trade in general benefits the economy as a whole,” the delegate from the United Kingdom said. “It’s globalization in a nutshell.”