The week in trade: EU inner-sanctum, EV tussles and digital trade docs

Thu 21 Sept 2023
Posted by: Danielle Keen

This week marks the IOE&IT’s Annual General Meeting (AGM), which is taking place in sunny Glasgow. We also hosted our first food and drink special interest group, discussing the issues facing the industry with an expert panel.

In less tasty news, it’s been a tough week for sustainability, as the dust settles on Sunak’s net zero announcements and EV trade tensions between the EU and China hot up.

The big picture: Could a return to the EU be on the cards? It was an unequivocal ‘no’ from Keir Starmer, who ruled out re-joining the bloc, the customs union and single market on Monday (18 September).

And yet, an alternative route to better trading terms with the EU may have emerged in the form of a new tiered system backed by both France and Germany. The Independent reports that under this new system, the UK could gain admission to a privileged ‘inner circle,’ removing existing barriers.

Good week/bad week: It was a good week for Martin Kent, recently appointed as HM Trade Commissioner for Asia Pacific. He can look forward to jetting around the Indo-Pacific trying to strike trade deals.

Airport managers, who face managing the cost of billion-dollar bills to adapt to climate change, according to Bloomberg. Heatwaves, flooding and other forms of extreme weather will see airports scrambling to avoid closure and ensure safety standards.

How’s stat? The FT reported that electric vehicles (EVs) are set to comprise 18% of all cars sold this year. Who will be selling, and to whom, is still up for debate. Amid possible EU anti-subsidy probes into China’s market, Vietnam is now tipped to take over supply, according to Reuters.

The week in customs: It’s finally here! The Electronic Trade Documents Act (ETDA) came into force yesterday (20 September) ushering in a brave new world of trade digitalisation. The act will give digital trade docs, from promissory notes to bills of lading, the same legally recognition as their paper counterparts. This will enable trade, the laggard of commerce, to take tentative steps into the twenty-first century at long last.

Quote of the week: “There are a number of red warning lights on the dashboard. Previous rate rises are working to tackle inflation. And if the medicine is working, you need to give it time to avoid risking an overdose.” Kitty Ussher, the chief economist at the Institute of Directors, speaking to The Guardian. The Bank of England are clearly in agreement as rates held firm at 5.25% today.

What else we covered this week: Content editor Benjamin Roche covered Kemi Badenoch’s announcement of a revamped UK trade board.

Richard Cree delved into the history of Glasgow, which played host to our IOE&IT AGM this week, exploring transatlantic shipping, the city’s ‘tobacco lords’ and tech hubs.

As Tata Steel finally got its £1.2bn cash injection, Phil Adnett found out what’s the deal with green steel.

Executive editor William Barns-Graham completed his series on ETDA this week, considering the future of trade digitalisation now that the act is in place.

True facts: Saturday 23 September marks the Autumn equinox, a date after which Michigan researchers found that heart attacks decrease, possibly due to the extra hour’s sleep associated with the end of daylight saving practices.
While you’d think resolving to go to bed an hour earlier would neutralise your risk of ‘shuffling off’ come Daylight Saving, the heart attack research has actually been used in several US states to fight the clocks going forward.