If you live in the UK you will have encountered the news that Cadbury, the iconic British chocolate manufacturer, has been snapped up by the American ciggie company Philip Morris in the guise of their subsidiary company Kraft. The outgoing chairman of Cadbury has even pronounced that job losses in the UK are an ‘inevitability’ after this takeover is finalised. Bad news, eh?
The loss of jobs in the UK is certainly not good news, but as far as the takeover in general is concerned I am not sure we should be too bothered. There are a couple of pertinent blog posts (riddled with spelling and grammatical errors, alas) on toryradio.com: “I don’t care who owns Cadbury” and “If you object to Kraft taking over Cadbury you better not use US goods”. These make it very clear that in a global economy this kind of takeover will happen all the time, and we should not demand protectionist laws to stop them from happening.
People who do want British industries to be protected from foreign companies buying them are thinking sloppily and have double standards. A vanishingly small number of people complain when British companies do well abroad and buy up their foreign competitors. Most of us would, quite rightly, complain if such advances by British companies in other countries were blocked by protectionist laws. This is why we have international trade laws, they (attempt) to allow a level playing field for all companies from all countries.
The odious Gordon Brown may say that the government is “determined” to ensure that Cadbury jobs are secure, but these things are not really in his domain to meddle with. If an international company wants to wind down its operations in a particular country no government could enact any legislation that would stop them from being able to do so. Gordon is just trotting out populist rubbish in the crazy hope that people might like him and his government a bit more.
Naturally the people working for Cadbury might be concerned about their jobs, but to decry the loss of a ‘Great British Institution’ is just small-minded and fails to see that such deals recognise the UK as a thriving and profitable economy which is good to be doing business in. I was quite surprised to read this blog post by a Conservative Parliamentary Candidate. He calls for outmoded protectionist laws to keep British things British. This seems an odd argument from a Conservative politician. I wonder how he would respond if the US blocked BP from opening more petrol stations there because they were a foreign-owned company. Free trade is what keeps both the world and local economies vibrant and ever expanding, we cannot retreat into our own little corner of the world and just hope everyone leaves us alone. If they did we would be broke.
As long as I can buy the occasional Wispa bar and the adverts remain amusing (sometimes lewdly suggestive, see below) I am not too bothered who owns Cadbury.
There are plenty more posts out in the blogosphere about the Cadbury takeover, some of which cite the specific qualities of Cadbury’s chocolate that they worry about being lost. Yes, I will buy the (very) occasional Cadbury’s chocolate product, but the Raedwald blog perfectly captures the synergy between the makers of Philadelphia and the manufacturer of Dairy Milk. However, he is wrong to suggest Charbonnel et Walker as purveyors of fine chocolate, Valrhona and Pierre Marcolini are far better.