The Week in Trade: Labour's business plans, ETDA report and EV Show insights

Fri 1 Dec 2023
Posted by: Benjamin Roche
Features

Newspapers with coffee

COP28 kicks off this week in UAE, while London has already been hosting the Electric Vehicle (EV) Show, where speakers explored the role of business in the climate transition and exhibitors at the show told the Daily Update what they wanted to see from the UK.

Shadow business and trade secretary Jonathan Reynolds has also outlined Labour’s designs for boosting businesses in a speech given yesterday (29 November).

The big picture: Labour’s Plan for Small Business includes reforms to business rates, Reynolds explained, “so that they reward expansion rather than disincentivising it”, making them more “market responsive”.

Reynolds added that at least one small to medium enterprise (SME) will be shortlisted for every appropriate contract with government under Labour, and he emphasised that the party was planning “the practical changes needed to boost exports from small firms” with the help of a new export taskforce with the Federation of Small Business (FSB).

Good week/bad week: Positive signs for paperless trade this week as the International Chamber of Commerce UK (ICC) launched a report into the benefits of the Electronic Trade Documents Act (ETDA) alongside the Centre for Digital Trade and Innovation (C4DTI). It suggested that embracing electronic trade could boost profits by 15% and cut border waiting times by as much as 80%.

Less upbeat noises came from retailers, meanwhile, as several warned of the effects of increases to business rates and the new Border Target Operating Model’s labelling requirements.

British Retail Confederation (BRC) CEO Helen Dickinson said that the rate bump and “hidden costs of complying with new regulations” marked “new headwinds” for firms.

How’s stat? £29.5bn – the value of investments announced for life sciences, infrastructure, housing and other sectors at the UK’s Global Investment Summit, held this week.

The week in customs: A preview of next week’s free IOE&IT webinar on customs changes coming up next year yielded a suggestion from senior customs and trade specialist Anna Doherty that it is “imperative” for businesses to understand what is happening:

“BTOM, for example, will impact British importers and European suppliers, with new sanitary and phytosanitary checks particularly significant. Both the UK and EU are also continue looking at new single trade window programmes next year, while the Windsor Framework will see new processes brought in for trade over the Irish Sea.”

Quote of the week: “I would be quite concerned in Brussels that thinking from day one of a Tusk-led government everything is back on track. I don’t think that it will be a case of ‘turning the tap on’ and everything is better. It’s going to be a complex process.”

IOE&IT director of EU public affairs, Fergus McReynolds, spoke this week to the Daily Update about the implications for EU trade policy of a host of recent elections in Poland and other EU countries.

What else we covered this week: At London’s EV Show, exhibitors told us they want to see better guidance from the government around regulation, while one explained that manufacturing in the EV sector was limited in the UK compared with some countries in the EU.

This week’s Commodity in Focus feature looked at uranium, a commodity for which nuclear-reliant France is increasingly turning to central Asian nations like Kazakhstan.

True facts: Today is National Stay at Home Because You’re Well Day, which encourages the nation’s employees to call into work explaining that they will be absent on account of not being ill. A report on the implications for UK productivity has yet to be published.