The Week Ahead in International Trade: BTOM second phase, local elections and IOE&IT auto focus

Mon 29 Apr 2024
Posted by: Benjamin Roche

In a week already awash with political news following the resignation of Scottish first minister Humza Yousaf, there is also plenty to look forward to in trade. The Border Target Operating Model (BTOM) is set to enter its second phase of implementation tomorrow (30 April), though industry figures have raised concerns over the system’s readiness.

The OECD will also share its Economic Outlook REPORT and the UK is set to go to the polls in local elections on Thursday (2 May). The Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT) is also hosting two events looking at trade in the automotive sector.


BTOM’s second phase is coming into force following several delays, and there was renewed controversy at the end of last week, as undersecretary for state Robbie Douglas-Miller responded to concerns expressed by the Dover District Council (DDC) over the possible utilisation of a border control post (BCP) in Sevington, 22 miles inland of Dover.

Further issues around information sharing from the government have also been raised today, along with reminders that all consignments heading through Dover or Eurotunnel will require a Common User Charge regardless of whether they’re selected for checks.

UK exports will come into focus on Thursday again, when the Business and Trade Committee host another oral evidence session on export-led economic growth.

Auto focus

IOE&IT hosts the next in its series of special interest group (SIG) events on Wednesday (1 May), offering members an overview of the automotive industry. The session will include an update from Alessandro Marongiu, senior trade policy manager at the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Members can sign up here.

On Thursday, this will be followed by another member-exclusive session on the auto industry, with the next instalment of the Lunchtime Learning series looking at origin and preference in the sector. You can sign up for that one here.

Interest rates

The issue of inflation will again come under media scrutiny this week, as the US Federal Reserve mulls an interest rate cut. Those eager to see one are likely to be disappointed following the news that US inflation remained higher than expected.

Speaking to the FT, ADM Investor Services International head economist Marc Ostwald said special attention would be paid to chair of the Federal Reserve Jay Powell’s message after the rate announcement. Ostwald suggested that Powell’s thinking may be influenced by a “drag” on the US economy from net exports that “was all about the strength of imports rather than weakness in exports”.

Local elections

Thursday is UK voters’ first turn at the polls this year, with local elections offering them a chance to have their say on council representatives and, in some areas, their mayor.

It is also, however, an opportunity for UK voters to play a role in deciding the country’s approach to international trade, as highlighted by the Daily Update in the most recent of a three-part series on the elections.

It could be a particularly difficult day for the Conservatives, should Labour win the mayoral combined authorities of Tees Valley and the West Midlands. Polling in the former suggests that incumbent Conservative mayor Ben Houchen, who has overseen a drive towards digital trade in the region, is level with Labour candidate Chris McEwan.

Reports and stats

It’s another major week for reports and data releases this week, too. The OECD publishes its next Economic Outlook report on Thursday, examining the health of the global economy after supply chains have faced shocks from disruption in the Red Sea, drought in the Panama Canal and the ongoing effects of inflation and geopolitical tension. The 2024 OECD Ministerial Council Meeting takes place in Paris on the same day.

GDP stats for the EU arrive tomorrow. They follow news that 11 EU countries could be in breach of new fiscal rules for member nations due to enter force this year. The rules mandate that countries to do not run a budget deficit greater than 3% of GDP.

S&P Global services PMI data will also be released on Friday for the UK, US and Canada. The UK leapt up the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) table of exporting nations earlier this month following an increase in its services exports.

Other dates for the diary

Monday: Maastricht debate between European Commission presidential candidates

Tuesday: Lord David Cameron speaks at Lords international relations committee

Wednesday: UK manufacturing PMI

Thursday: EU, Russia, South Korea and Brazil manufacturing PMIs

Friday: EU and US unemployment figures

Saturday: World Labyrinth Day

Sunday: Panamanian elections begin