The Week in International Trade: Labour Conference ends and UK trade stats

Fri 13 Oct 2023
Posted by: Danielle Keen
Features

Newspapers with coffee

The Labour Party Conference ended this week, with the Institute of Export &International Trade’s (IOE&IT’s) public affairs contingent returning tired but plenty the wiser from two weeks of panels, speeches and dinners. You can read what they made of Labour's conference here.

UK trade stats were released (12 October), showing increased imports from non-EU countries largely driven by oil and gas though a continued reduction in the goods trade deficit.

The big picture: It’s been a big week for the big picture as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) held their annual meetings in Marrakech. Key takeaways were covered by the FT, who noted the IMF’s failure to revise its members’ payment quotas and voting weight, leaving certain fast-developing countries contributing less than their fair share, while not having a sufficient say.

The IMF also cut growth forecasts for China and the EU, as reported by Reuters, and described the world economy as ‘limping along’. Persistent inflation was named as an aggravating factor, with fiscal discipline prescribed by the IMF to bring levels under control.

Good week/bad week: Among the newly-minted Nobel laureates were chemistry laureates Moungi G. Bawendi, Louis E. Brus and Alexei I. Ekimov, who were chosen for their work bringing colour to nanotechnology. Applications range from lighting tumour tissue for surgical intervention to bringing you an even crisper picture on your TV screen, so truly life-changing all-round.

In economics, Claudia Goldin’s work on the gender wage gap, articulating the barriers that exist for women gaining pay parity and the policy requirements to break them down, was given the highest prize. This makes her only the third woman to win the award, and the first to do so independent of male co-winners.

It wasn’t such a good week for cross-channel cattle trade – closely documented in the ONS stats, don’t worry – or indeed the particular cattle involved, as an outbreak of Epizootic haemorrhagic disease has led to the suspension of import of sheep from France. Sky reports that DEFRA is on the case and fears of the disease reaching the UK are minimal.

How’s stat? Almost half (44%) of Make UK members surveyed believe the tax system is unfavourable. Ahead of the Autumn Statement next month, the manufacturing trade body is urging chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, to announce a competitive overhaul of the system.

The week in customs: Some good customs news for those of you scrambling to get your customs declarations system NCTS5-compliant, with an extension granting over seven extra months to get your software up to speed. HMRC announced that the new deadline is 1 July 2024 earlier this week.

Quote of the week: "They've become workers, they've begun earning a living for themselves and for their families. Their lives have greatly changed, but the labour market and the policies of governments are often slower to respond." Claudia Goldin, speaking at Harvard, about the changes still needed to empower women in the workplace, as reported by Reuters.

What else we covered this week: Phil Adnett explains why the EU has axed a piece of anti-competition law protecting small shipping industry players.

Benjamin Roche delved into a dust-up in Granada that brought the European Political Community summit to a premature end, along with growing EU-China trade disputes in his Europe round-up.

In the latest instalment of his new Trade Secrets series, Richard Cree offers ten top tips on how to make the most of attending a trade show.

True facts: Investors should be bracing themselves today, not only is it Friday 13th, but it’s also October, Friday 13th. A historically unlucky day in in the world of finance, today has seen S&P 500 falls of 0.5% on average every year since 1928, according to Time magazine. Still, I’d happily take this cut over one from Jason Voorhees.