The Week Ahead in International Trade: UK industrial policy, an EU AI clampdown and CDS chat

Mon 11 Mar 2024
Posted by: Danielle Keen

This week will see some key questions debated in both the UK and EU, as the UK’s industrial strategy and policies around the movement of people are discussed and debated, while the EU will move closer towards regulating the corporate use of AI. Elsewhere, the Institute of Export and International Trade (IOE&IT) will be covering everything you need to know about the Customs Declaration Service (CDS) in its Lunchtime Learning webinar.

UK industrial policy

On Tuesday (12 March), the business and trade committee will be holding another oral evidence session on the state of the UK’s industrial policy. Posing the somewhat pessimistic question, “Has the UK lost its competitive edge?”, the sessions will continue the inquiry into how the UK can best capitalise on its strengths, how to support net zero goals, and ultimately, whether a government approach comparable to the US Inflation Reduction Act or the EU’s Green Deal would be required to stimulate growth.

The committee will hear from experts from the London School of Economics (LSE), Boston Consulting Group, Policy Exchange and the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), among others.

Rwanda debates

The legality of moving asylum seekers from the UK to Rwanda will once again make its way to the House of Lords on Tuesday. Peers will be debating whether Rwanda can be designated a ‘safe country’, after the bill was defeated ten times last week. This additional push will see prime minister Rishi Sunak trying to overturn the decision of the European Court of Human Rights and the UK’s Supreme Court.

Amendments made last week include the prevention of someone being relocated if they are the victim of trafficking or modern slavery, or if they have previously supported British troops overseas.

Other amendments were made to ensure that unaccompanied children couldn’t be relocated – with Baroness Lister arguing that existing methods for assessing age are “notoriously unreliable”.

EU AI clamp-down?

The EU’s parliament will be voting on legislation to regulate corporate applications of AI on Wednesday (13 March). If passed, the use of AI for influencing behaviour, ‘social scoring’ and real-time facial recognition (except by law enforcement) will be subject to fines of up to €35m or 7% of the company’s global turnover.

The Brussels effect is expected to take hold, with these restrictions potentially shaping the development of corporate AI globally. Bloomberg Law highlighted that if a company’s product is being sold in the EU, then it would fall under the scope of the legislation. Evi Fuelle, global policy director at Credo AI, told the publication “it’s simply not true” that US firms can assume the law “has nothing to do with [them]”.

Lunchtime Learning

On Thursday (14 March), we’ll be bringing you the next instalment of our regular member-exclusive Lunchtime Learning series. This week we’ll be looking at how CDS, which becomes the mandatory customs declarations method for exporters as of 30 March, will change the process of carrying out export declarations. You can join IOE&IT trade and customs specialist Matt Vick and regular host Phil Adnett at 12pm to learn more. Register here.

Russia’s presidential election

Sunday (17 March) will see Russian’s cast ballots in their presidential election. While expectations are that Putin will receive another six-year term, recent events mean support for the president is shakier than would ordinarily be expected.

Wagner’s coup last year, combined with the death of former opposition leader Alexei Navalny last month, have led to some vocal opposition, with Navalny’s widow Yulia Navalnaya encouraging Russians to stage protests on election day

Other dates in the diary:

Monday Xi Jinping expected to address final day of China’s National Party Conference

Tuesday – OPEC monthly oil markets

Wednesday UK overseas trade and monthly GDP figures released

Thursday NATO annual report and press conference

Friday – World Consumer Rights Day

Saturday – Welsh Labour leadership election winner declared

Sunday – St Patrick’s Day