The Week Ahead in International Trade: Spring Budget and International Women’s Day

Mon 4 Mar 2024
Posted by: Danielle Keen

It’s a packed week ahead, with plenty happening in the world of trade. Wednesday (6 March) will see chancellor Jeremy Hunt deliver the UK’s Spring Budget. We’ll be holding our breath for trade-related announcements that tick some items off our members’ wish list.

It’s also International Women’s Day on Friday (8 March) and to mark the occasion, the Institute of Export and International Trade (IOE&IT) will be holding a free webinar to discuss barriers to female participation in trade.

Spring Budget

Hunt will deliver what could be the Conservative Party’s last pre-election economic address on Wednesday. Amid speculation on whether the country’s coffers will allow for tax breaks, our members’ hopes include greater MSME support via an increase of the threshold at which smaller firms begin to pay VAT, as well as assistance on digital trade and more funding for trade-related vocational qualifications.

Ahead of his parliamentary address, Hunt announced a £360m research and development (R&D) package for the UK’s most promising manufacturing sectors, including £200m for aerospace projects that could contribute to the UK’ net zero ambitions, and a further £73m for advanced in electric vehicle technologies.

China economic updates

Last year’s trade news frequently featured updates on China’s slowing economy and the risk it posed for global growth.

This week, it will hold its annual ‘Two Sessions’ meeting, beginning today, in which economic targets are set and possible stimulus packages unveiled – with many commentators keeping an eye out for measures to support the country’s struggling real estate sector. However, those same commentators are unlikely to be able to question decisions directly as the meeting won’t be followed by a press conference held by China’s top economics official, which hasn’t happened since 1993.

Public webinar: International Women’s Day

On Friday (8 March) you can join our head of trade policy, Hemita Bhatti, and guests for an International Women’s Day special.

With the World Bank finding that women in developing countries are better represented in firms that export, the need to remove barriers to trade - such as “gender-biased sociocultural norms, higher tariff and nontariff barriers, and lack of access to technology, finance and education” - is pressing. You can register here to hear our expert panel discuss these barriers and how to break them down.

Lunchtime Learning

IOE&IT will be bringing you two webinars this week, beginning with another instalment of our member-exclusive Lunchtime Learning series.

This session will address changes to the way in which customs authorisations and other key procedures are handled, covering decisions made in last year’s Spring Budget and corresponding updates from December.

On Thursday (7 March) you can join trade and customs specialist Matt Vick and content editor Benjamin Roche for a look at recent efforts to modernise the UK border. Members can register here.

Other dates for the diary:

Monday – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights delivers update on global human rights developments

Tuesday – House of Lords debate on UK position on foreign affairs

Wednesday – Alongside the budget, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) will release its independent assessment of the plans, its Economic & Fiscal Forecast

Thursday – World Book Day

Friday – EU GDP released

Saturday – China CPI released

Sunday – Early parliamentary elections in Portugal