The Week in Trade: WTO happenings, parliamentary insults and what's new with UFOs?

Fri 15 Sept 2023
Posted by: Danielle Keen

Newspapers with coffee

There aren’t many bigger weeks in trade than the World Trade Organization (WTO) Public Forum. The best and brightest in international trade gathered in Geneva, including our own crack policy team and director general Marco Forgione, who chaired a panel, ‘Catalysing Green Trade,’ alongside academic board chair Sangeeta Khorana.

The G20 wrapped up with the admission of the African Union, so the baton will be passed to Brazil to host the G21 next year. Alongside BRICS membership doubling, the world stage is starting to resemble a secondary school PE class, where everyone makes the team. Naturally, this raises the question: who will be picked last?

The main message to come out of the WTO Public Forum was that this kind of geopolitical factionalism is damaging to the economy and we should instead be striving for “re-globalisation”. Yes, in a renegade move that left this trade journalist’s jaw on the floor, the WTO advocated for fewer barriers and greater economic integration.

Good week/bad week: It’s been a great week for Softbank, which put British chip maker Arm back on the public market after a seven-year hiatus. It’s US$68bn valuation yesterday (14 September) was an 18% mark-up on Wednesday’s offer price.

While Wall Street traders rub their hands will glee, it might be a bad week for us “tradies,” at least if Australian CEO Tim Gurner’s dreams were to come true. Apparently, central banks should be tightening the monetary screws even more; he claimed 40 – 50% unemployment should be about right to put “arrogant workers” back in their place and get the global economy back on track. “We need to see pain in the economy … and remind people they work for the employer, not the other way around.”

How’s stat? In a glance at how UK monetary tightening is panning out: the economy contracted 0.5% in July, while unemployment crept up to 4.3% and the Bank of England is likely to raise interest rates again next week. Meaning we’re 100% on-track for a recession. At least Gurner’s hellscape still seems distant.

The week in customs: In a rather niche glance into the world of border checks, a pair of customs processing sites in Kent became fully operational this week, taking the heat off commercial contracts, which will nonetheless remain in place for dangerous goods.

So, if you’re heading to Paris to breed a horse, mosey on down to Ashford’s Sevington inland facility. Sending nuclear material to the continent? Of course you are! Then your goods better head to Folkestone’s Stop 24.

Quote of the week: How to pick just one, when the country is now readying itself for a face-off between “inaction man” and “beach Ken-zero-balls.”

Sir Keir Starmer and Penny Mordaunt getting down with the little kids in Parliament.

What else we covered this week: Richard Cree had a peek inside the world of NAFTA, currently filled with angry Canadian farmers and big name firms clamouring to take their chance on a New York listing.

Phil Adnett offered insights from panels at this year’s International shipping week, ranging from commodities news to geopolitical analysis, while Benjamin Roche brought us all the news from the Northern Ireland Investment Summit.

Finally, executive Editor, William Barns-Graham, covered the WTO panel on ‘Forging Trade for a Sustainable Future’.

True facts: There is life out there! Well, perhaps. NASA has announced it is developing a new framework to better assess the many, as yes unexplained, UFO sightings around the US. Rebranded “unidentified anomalous phenomena” (UAPs), to reflect the scientific nature of the undertaking and distance it from crackpot abduction anecdotes, the mysterious sightings are not yet considered a likely sign on alien life. While in Mexico, Congress was presented with some alien corpses. Or was it?

We’ll be holding fire on our galaxy trade round-up for a little while yet.