One of the many things the UK will need to do on its way out of the EU is to establish its new ‘most favoured nation’ trading profile at the WTO in Geneva. This means establishing the tariffs for goods, minimum market access conditions for services trade and a number of other notified conditions that will apply in the UK market. Other WTO member states will have the right to challenge this process if they feel they have been disadvantaged by it. To help avoid this, the UK has said that it proposes to adopt for itself the goods and services schedules that it currently applies as an EU member state, except in a small number of areas where quantitative EU import quotas will need to be divided in some way between the two markets.
If you want to understand the state of the EU-China economic relationship, then reading the analysis of China’s Manufacturing 2025 strategy by the European Chamber of Commerce in China is a great place to start. It does not bother with the usual, dry statistical analysis of export growth rates and bilateral deficits. Instead, it is a stark exposé of why European businesses find competing in China anything but fair. It sends a strong signal that the political pressure on European policymakers to take a tougher line on Chinese investment and competition in Europe is only going to grow. And it suggests that those hoping a far-reaching bilateral investment agreement will soon be agreed between China and the EU are likely to be disappointed.
Today SoftBank, new owners of UK tech jewel ARM Holdings, sold a 25% stake in the business just nine months after acquiring the chipmaker. Though the UK government is committed to ending short-termism in company governance and stewardship, and addressing the power of ‘foreign’ takeovers of British companies, the move apparently sounded no more alarm bells than did the initial swoop for ARM.
Northern Ireland’s Assembly election on 2 March has come close to delivering a political earthquake, with the nationalist Sinn Fein coming within 1,200 votes of beating the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to first place, while the Assembly could for the first time lack a unionist majority. Arguably the most consequential election since the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, the election will have important ramifications for both the future of devolution and Brexit’s impact on Northern Ireland.
The race for the governorship of Jakarta is almost over. According to unofficial results from private pollsters this week, incumbent governor Basuki ‘Ahok’ Tjahaja Purnama and Gerindra Party-backed Anies Baswedan will be facing off in a runoff election on 19th April. The leadership of the capital is arguably the biggest job under the President and a platform for national leadership, and this race is setting the tone for national politics in important ways, so it is worth watching closely.
This week marked something of a milestone for the 21-year old World Trade Organisation (WTO). After being agreed at the December 2015 Nairobi Ministerial meeting, the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) has now been ratified by more than two thirds of the WTO membership and has thus entered into force. This makes it the first successful multilateral agreement reached under the auspices of the WTO. It is important in its own right, and has a couple of important lessons for the future of EU-UK trade.
Last week Dyson announced the opening of a new £330 million R&D centre in Singapore. The focus of the centre, home to Dyson’s new Global Technology Centre of Excellence, is on commercialising Dyson’s technology for global markets, including, for example, for use in smart homes. Dyson has grand ambitions to expand beyond household devices into technologies that will shape the future Internet of Things: artificial intelligence, robotics and vision systems.
In the 2016 Presidential election, Silicon Valley burnished its credentials as a liberal bastion. In the combined counties of San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Alameda, 78% of voters supported Hillary Clinton with only 16% voting for Donald Trump.
If there is a second independence referendum in Scotland, one of the central issues will be which single market matters more, the UK’s or the EU’s? The latest export statistics for Scotland, published last month, reveal what’s at stake.
On Wednesday next week, the US Trade Representative will hold a public hearing on whether the US should reinstate retaliatory tariffs on various imports coming from the EU, in retaliation for an EU ban on US hormone-treated beef exports. This is a longstanding trade irritant between the EU and the US, first erupting with a (successful) US complaint at the WTO in 1996. A compromise reached in 2009 allowing greater quantities of non-hormone beef on the EU market temporarily removed US punitive tariffs, but US farmers believe they have not done as well out of these expanded quotas as they should have. Wednesday will see a debate on putting tariffs back.