12 April 2018

Canada prioritises “more impactful” deal with UK post-Brexit, while India says UK “has lost its attraction”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said it would be “fairly easy” to negotiate “an improved approach on trade between Canada and the UK” after Brexit. In an interview with The Times, he said, “The rolled-over or specific CETA [Canada-EU] arrangement between Canada and the UK is just the floor, or the first step. After that, we very much look forward to negotiating an even bigger or larger or more impactful deal to encourage the deepening of trade ties between Canada and the UK.”

However, India’s Deputy High Commissioner, Dinesh Patnaik, has said an India-UK deal “will take a very long time to do,” adding, “The UK probably doesn’t have any capacity to do anything other than Brexit. Once you get through Brexit we can try.” He also noted the UK’s previous refusal to grant India visa liberalisation arrangements during negotiations for an India-EU deal. He said, “[While] every other country is opening up its doors to Indian students, Britain has lost its attraction.”

Separately, Bloomberg reports that UK officials could be preparing to keep the UK in the EU customs union after Brexit. It notes that some of the Prime Minister’s team believe that the opportunity to strike new trade deals independently outside the customs union is not that desirable.

Elsewhere, the latest figures released by the Office for National Statistics show that, despite Brexit prospects, in the three months to February goods trade with the EU increased, while trade with the rest of the world dropped by about 4 percent.

Source: The Times Bloomberg ONS

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Chancellor warns of “catastrophe” for Ireland if UK and EU reach “no solution” in Brexit talks

In an interview with German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Chancellor Philip Hammond has said it would be a “catastrophe” for Ireland if “no solution is found between the EU and Britain in Brexit negotiations.” Hammond also noted, “It would be best if we remained in a close relationship with European partners which would allow us to continue to put on a united front in international trade issues.”

Elsewhere, the Irish police have warned they will need more physical resources in the border region after Brexit. They have said this will be necessary to manage increased demands for all the specialist and intelligence policing units created by the UK’s withdrawal.

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European Parliament demands clarity on UK-EU relations post-Brexit

The European Parliament (EP) Brexit co-ordinator Guy Verhofstadt had said in an interview that it is “in the interest of both parties [UK and EU]” to have clarity on the future relationship. He argued, “Nobody wants to say, ‘OK, we agree on the withdrawal without knowing what will be afterwards’,” adding that for the EP “there is no agreement possible on withdrawal and on transition if we do not also have an idea of the future relationship.” The European Parliament, who will have to give its approval on the withdrawal deal, is supporting a post-Brexit association agreement with the UK, a model that would entail a closer relationship than the one the EU has with Canada. According to Verhofstadt, this model is a “fairly flexible thing” and would not jeopardise the EU’s nature as “a coherent system.”

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UK to continue participation in EU budget talks despite Brexit

The UK will take part in today’s EU’s General Affairs Council discussions about how to spend the Cohesion Fund, dedicated to the EU’s poorest regions, after 2020, Politico reports. This comes despite the UK’s departure from the EU being scheduled for 2019, with a plan to end the transition period at the end of 2020.

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New analysis suggests UK could benefit from sustainable fishing post-Brexit

According to Oceana, a non-governmental organisation working on fishing, the UK could generate 5,000 new jobs and add more than £300m a year to its economy if it moves to sustainable fishing after leaving the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) post-Brexit. While sustainable catches of the most important species of fish would impose limits on fishing, as currently the CFP allows catches greater than needed for some key species to recover, in the longer term the UK could benefit from such policies, says Oceana’s analysis. It argues, allowing stocks to recover for a few years would allow UK fishing fleets to increase their catch by more than 150,000 tonnes a year, with net profits rising to more than £80m a year. The NGO adds that in order to reap the benefits, the UK would need to reach a suitable agreement with the European states with which it shares waters.

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UK must “work hard to maintain its leading position” in asset management, says TheCityUK

A survey conducted by finance trade body TheCityUK has found that asset managers in the UK oversee a record £2.6tn of assets for overseas clients: 37 per cent of the total assets under management in the UK. Anjalika Bardalai, chief economist and head of research at TheCityUK stressed, “Of the overseas funds managed in the UK, roughly half come from EEA countries, with the rest predominantly from the US and Asia,” adding, “The UK must therefore work hard to maintain its leading position, particularly in light of the uncertainty caused by the UK’s impending exit.” Post-Brexit, UK asset managers might be unable to take advantage of the delegation regime which allows funds domiciled and regulated in one EU country to be managed and marketed from the UK.

Elsewhere, a new survey has found that businesses face an annual cost of around $780 billion for implementing and complying with differing sets of financial rules and regulations around the world. The report, which was conducted by the International Federation of Accountants and business group BIAC, has found that businesses expect costs to increase as a result of regulatory divergence between the UK and EU after Brexit. The OECD director for public governance, Marcos Bonturi, has said, “The survey highlights the need for increased international regulatory co-operation to reduce the regulatory divergences which are costly on business.”

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New campaign to demand public vote on Brexit deal launches this weekend

A new campaign for a public vote on the terms of the final Brexit deal will be launched this weekend by pro-Remain groups, The Telegraph reports. The campaign, which is supported by Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs, is branded “The People’s Vote” and reportedly can rely on £1m in funding. Open Britain announced they would hold “over 300 grassroots events on Saturday and a launch event on Sunday” for the campaign.

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European Commission takes steps to outlaw “dual food” practice

The European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Věra Jourová, yesterday announced the proposal for a new EU directive to ban so-called “dual food”: the practice adopted by many multinationals of selling lower quality food and drinks to consumers in Eastern Europe. Commenting on the proposal, Jourová said, “We are not dictating tastes. I am not touching Danish herrings, I am not touching Czech sausages. If there exists a brand that is marketed in many member states, there is legitimate expectation that the brand will contain the same thing.” She added, “I am not friendly towards legislation when there are other ways to do the same thing. But I have received very clear responses from the member states that they want to see this in legislation.”

The move comes as part of Brussels’s efforts to deliver on Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s promise of a “new deal for consumers.” Other measures proposed on Wednesday include increased consumers’ powers to sue firms and higher sanctions for companies deemed to have breached the rights of large groups of consumers. “In a globalised world where the big companies have a huge advantage over individual consumers,” Jourová said, “we need to level the odds. Consumer authorities will finally get teeth to punish the cheaters. It cannot be cheap to cheat.”

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Anti-corruption body: Romania's judicial and criminal law reforms go against European standards

The Council of Europe’s anti-corruption body, the Group of States against Corruption (Greco), yesterday released a report in which it warned that justice and criminal law reforms passed in Romania in December 2017 would violate European anti-corruption standards. The report notes that the Romanian parliament’s plan to create a new special prosecutor function to investigate offences in the judiciary “could be easily misused” or “interfere in sensitive high-profile cases.” Moreover, introducing a new offence of “abuse of judicial powers” conveys “the wrong message about Romania’s current priorities,” and “could have an excessively intimidating effect on the work of judges and prosecutors.” Greco also recommends that “Romania should refrain from passing criminal law amendments which would contradict its international commitments and undermine its domestic capacities in the area of the fight against corruption.”

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