The Week in Trade: Sunak talks Brexit opportunities, Starmer sets out six steps and maritime corruption spotlighted

Fri 17 May 2024
Posted by: Danielle Keen

Some have declared that election campaigning has begun, with major speeches from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Labour leader Keir Starmer this week, followed by chancellor Jeremy Hunt today (17 May).

Sunak emphasised trade opportunities made possible by Brexit and plans for future investment in infrastructure that could support increased trade. Meanwhile, Starmer outlined the six steps he would take following a Labour election victory. These included establishing a publicly owned Great British Energy firm and launching a new border control security command. There were additional pledges to support public services such as the NHS, and to boost the number of teachers in light of growing shortages. 

Good week/bad week: Good news for firms specialising in legal technology, as the UK justice minister Mike Freer led a delegation of British legal professionals to Australia this week, where they networked and learned from their Australian counterparts. Last year, attendees of Sydney’s Legal Innovation and Tech Fest, around which the conference is based, secured UK firms over £16.5m in business.

Corruption within shipping was in the spotlight this week, as the BBC reported on the work of the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network, which received over 5,000 reports in 2023. Tales of sailors and captains being detained and threatened by port officials, with sizeable bribes required to ensure their safe release.

The week in customs: We’re counting down to the final deadline for Customs Declaration Service (CDS) migration: 4 June. If you’re a trade or part of a firm that completes export declarations, it’s vital you make the switch from CHIEF to CDS in the next couple of weeks.

How’s stat?: 45%. The growth of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba’s international arm. A bright spark for exports among an otherwise gloomy picture for the company, with Reuters reporting that overall profits tumbled 86%. Its falling domestic sales in China are attributed to increased competition from  Pinduoduo (PDD) and Douyin, owned by ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok.  

Quote of the week: “UK manufacturers still have a competitive edge in making some of the products vital for a net zero economy, and with the right government support we have the potential to be world-leading in many more.” 

George Dibb, the head of IPPR’s Centre for Economic Justice, speaking following suggestions that the UK could have a competitive advantage in a third of green manufacturing and services – a boon for net zero efforts.

What else we covered: As part of our ongoing Trade Explained series, we found out about the trade of hazardous chemicals and the legislation that regulates this, with IOE&IT expert Suzanne Alecrim providing traders with insight into the difference between UK and EU legislation, and how to trade compliantly.

IOE&IT’s fifth export control Special Interest Group was held on Tuesday (14 May), with experts sharing their top tips for ensuring compliance and discussing the extra levels of due diligence required by traders in light of increased sanctions in recent years. Members can learn more here.

True facts: Today is Endangered Species Day, which led us to examine CITES, the legislation that regulates the trade of endangered animals. Did you know you can travel with four seahorses in your luggage, but not five? That’s the cut-off for those of you with a penchant for returning from your summer holiday with interesting souvenirs.