Week Ahead in International Trade: AI summit, interest rates and UK climate meeting

Mon 30 Oct 2023
Posted by: Benjamin Roche
Features

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Artificial intelligence (AI) looms large this week, as tech titans and government representatives descend on London for the first global summit on the emerging technology. Interest rates are also in the spotlight on Thursday, when the Bank of England seems set to hold them at their current rate in the face of a cooling jobs market.

Deep-sea discussion

The week opens today (30 October) with the start of a session of the International Seabed Authority (ISA), an international body which makes recommendations on the sustainable use of marine mineral resources.

A key talking point on the agenda is how to mitigate negative fallout from seabed mineral mining.

The ISA is a body established by the UN, which is also set to meet today to discuss a report from the International Criminal Court (ICC) on global security.

Tuesday, meanwhile, is the soft deadline for an agreement between the US and EU on a trade agreement around the movement of steel, as the reimposition of Trump-era tariffs in the sector could give traders a Halloween scare.

In UK news, it is also the day new rules around bankers’ bonuses come into force, with a decade-old cap being removed for some of the nation’s top earners.

AI security

Wednesday and Thursday will see leading political figures, including US vice-president Kamala Harris, arriving in the UK for a summit the safe development of AI technology – the first global meeting of its kind.

Also in attendance will be China’s vice technology minister Wu Zhaohui, alongside representatives from AI firms and experts in the field.

Reuters reports that Zhaohui will be joined by several other Chinese representatives, including some from e-commerce multinational Alibaba and tech and entertainment giant Tencent.

The Chinese presence is said to have irked some from the US delegation, though it marks something of an olive branch from the Chinese government towards the UK following British foreign secretary James Cleverly’s visit to China in August.

The Daily Update recently noted comments from UK science and technology secretary Michelle Donelan in which she said the summit could be the start of a new international “network” that could lay the groundwork for a global AI regulator.

Interest rate decision due

The Bank of England is to deliver its decision on interest rates on Thursday, following a  Federal Reserve decision on the US rate on Wednesday.

BBC reporting suggests that the bank will hold the rate at its current level of 5.25%. The previous review of the number in September saw it maintained for the first time since December 2021, when rampant inflation became the bank’s focus.

Thinking on the interest rate may also be affected by the unemployment statistics for the UK released last week by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This found a 0.2% increase in the number of those unemployed, at 4.2%, but which prompted controversy owing to the new method used by the ONS to evaluate the rate.

Climate conversations

London’s Chatham House will host a meeting of government and business representatives on Wednesday and Thursday aimed at accelerating action on climate change.

It will focus on “climate diplomacy and finance”, as well as how geopolitics will affect the transition to clean energy that is the driving force behind policy initiatives such as the US Inflation Reduction Act.

Speakers are set to include academic figures such as University of Oxford natural resource expert John Beddington, as well as Harry Boyd-Carpenter, director of climate strategy at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

IOE&IT agenda

This week’s key dates in the Institute of Export and International Trade (IOE&IT) calendar include a Special Interest Group session on export controls, due tomorrow.

It will provide professionals working in the area with up-to-date information and education on the US enforcement regime.

Thursday, meanwhile, will see a Lunchtime Learning session on inward and outward processing relief, which will help businesses understand how to take advantage of these customs procedures.

Other dates for your diary

  • Monday: UN Security Council brief on refugees and displacement
  • Tuesday: Nordic Council meeting in Norway
  • Wednesday: China takes UN Security Council presidency
  • Thursday: London mayor Sadiq Khan speaks at The London Conference
  • Friday: South African president Cyril Ramaphosa speaks at African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) forum