The Week in Trade: Building BRICS, India over the moon and customs delays

Fri 25 Aug 2023
Posted by: Richard Cree

Newspapers with coffee

The big picture: An eventful week on the world stage saw the BRICS nations flock to South Africa for their annual summit. Aside from the confusion arising from China’s President Xi deciding to skip a keynote speech, headline news was the bloc’s decision to admit six new members.

In a boost to its total GDP and a further blow to its human rights record, the BRICS invited Iran, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Ethiopia, Egypt and Argentina to join on 1 January 2024. With so many vowels to play with, a new year deadline might be tight for the bloc to create a catchy acronym.

Good week/bad week: It was a good week for businesses that trade (or want to) with India. Business and trade secretary, Kemi Badenoch, visited Jaipur and launched a new “Alive with Opportunity” campaign to promote UK-India business. Talks on a bilateral trade deal are also reported to be reaching a crucial stage with an deal announced possibly as soon as later this year.

But it was a bad week for business trading with the EU seeking clarity over imports as, despite a nudge from Labour to Badenoch, the anticipated publication of the new border target operating model (BTOM) didn’t materialise.

The delay was widely criticised in the press. The new model is expected to land any day and will introduce new risk-based SPS checks on imports from the EU, restoring a level playing field for UK exporters, who have faced comparable restrictions since the start of 2021.

How’s stat? As the BRICS met in South Africa, an IMF report indicated that its share of global GDP stands at 32.1% this year, surpassing the G7’s 29.9%. This great infographic, from “visual capitalist” James Eagle sums it up well. 

The week in customs: In addition to the non-drop of BTOM, HMRC also announced delays to the implementation of CDS. The deadline for companies switching from the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system has been pushed back.

Quote of the week: “Businesses that trade internationally require certainty and clarity to be able to plan. The repeated delays have caused frustration and created uncertainty… We encourage the government to move as fast as possible to implement the findings of the customs initiatives announced at the Spring Budget” 

The latest delay to CDS led IOE&IT director general, Marco Forgione, to comment on how such delays are bad for business

What else we covered this week: Phil Adnett set out the arguments for and against new EU import rules tackling deforestation. While we can all agree preventing the annihilation of the Amazon is a pretty laudable goal, prominent voices within the trade community have warned the current rules disadvantage smaller traders, making adequate support essential.

Elsewhere, he explored the challenges faced by one of the world’s oldest crops – corn and the unlikely comeback of sails on cargo ships.

On the back of the drop in GCSE results, Danielle Keen explored how three IOE&IT team members took non-university routes into trade and Will Barns-Graham offered a round-up of trade events in Africa.

True facts: In other good news for India this week, it landed on the moon. Chandrayaan-3’s successful landing on Wednesday (23 August) makes India one of only four countries to complete a lunar spacecraft landing. It follows the US, China and Russia, whose Luna-25 spacecraft made a not so successful crash landing at the start of the week.