Somewhat to my surprise we have not written about the TTIP on C@W. It's a front we need to open up: should be a rattling good C@W topic; plus, trade agreements are becoming a hot issue.
The proximate reason for my mentioning this is the latest twist in the slow-burning EU referendum fuse. Cameron declares there's nothing for us down the 'Norway' route, and some of the 'outers' agree. The USA warns that we needn't think we'll get an easy trade deal with them, we'll languish out there on a par with Brazil, India & our new best friend China. Of course, others think the Norway option - complete with trade agreements - is pretty good, at least as a staging-post.
Everyone (I hope) knows how important trade agreements are: the anguished cry of most people of my generation (who voted 'yes' in 1975) is - I voted for a free trade area!
So supposing that the increasingly shrill (and a wee bit premature?) Project Fear is spent by 2017 and we vote to leave. How will we find our terms of trade then? There seems to be a view that come the day, since everyone really wants to trade and is nowadays a member of the WTO, we'll strike bilaterals easily enough, with blocs and individual nations. Maybe Brazil, India and China aren't such bad company to be in.
Is this right? Since the TTIP seems to be America's view of what constitutes a trade agreement: a piece of paper so outrageous that not even MPs or MEPs are allowed to see it without swearing to secrecy on their old Granny's grave (reminiscent of the South Sea Bubble venture: "a company for carrying out an undertaking of great advantage, but nobody to know what it is") - what sort of bilateral does a medium-sized country strike with the USA nowadays? Doesn't sound a happy place to be.
Then we consider what would need to be done vis-a-vis the rest. I heard an Indian cabinet minister speak recently, and he said: you may find me being described as uncooperative in WTO circles. That's because my price for anything the rest of the world wants is 200 million work permits for unemployable Indian subsistence farmers. China? We've already seen George offer to sell the farm to be their best friends. Brazil and the rest of Latin America? You can say goodbye to the Falklands - and dealmaker George 'strategic' Osborne is just the man to do it.
Hmm, a knotty subject. Perhaps that's why we've steered clear ...