Latest UK-EU trade talks end early while manufacturers voice concerns: key stories at week's end

Fri 3 Jul 2020
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

EU UK trade talks

Keeping you up-to-date with the latest twists and turns in global trade, here are three media stories that have a bearing on firms engaged in trading internationally.

1. Officials play down early end to latest round of UK-EU trade talks

It’s worth bearing in mind the different ideologies of news brands when reading reports of high-stakes meetings between negotiators working on a trade deal between the UK and the European Union.

For trade deal observers the calm of yesterday late afternoon was shattered with a headline in the Guardian:

‘EU-UK trade talks break up early over 'serious' disagreements,’ the Guardian reported, going on to say:

“The latest negotiations in Brussels on an EU-UK trade and security deal have broken up early, with the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, complaining of a lack of respect and engagement by the British government.” 

The BBC meanwhile reported that EU officials were playing down the early end to the face-to-face talks, supposed to finish in Brussels today (Friday 3 July) but ending yesterday instead. Talks would resume next week in London, the BBC said.

Other media outlets focused on what serious disagreements remain.

The Irish Times identified state aid as the obstacle, with the EU calling for the UK to continue to follow EU rules. 

“[The EU stance] is problematic for Britain both because it limits the country’s freedom to subsidise indigenous industry and because it would give the European Court of Justice a role in British economic policy,” the Irish Times reports.

The fact that the UK has not yet set out how it wants its state aid regime to operate means the EU is “unable to evaluate how a system of parallel state aid regimes would work, with both sides agreeing guidelines but regulating separately,” the Irish Times report continues.

2. Quarantine lifts but legal challenge by airlines goes ahead

There was some good news for those businesses that called on the government to ease COVID-19 quarantine restrictions, as a lifting was announced for people travelling to England from 60 countries, including France and Spain, using a new ‘traffic light system’ that grades a country’s risk levels.

It means people entering England won’t need to self-isolate, unless they have been in or travelled through non-exempt countries in the preceding 14 days.

For exporting companies with staff needing to travel to the 60 countries, several of these are expected to reciprocate and lift their quarantine restrictions on travel from England.

However, visitors from the US, considered a high-risk country due to its high Coronavirus infection levels, still need to isolate themselves for two weeks on entering England.

Meanwhile the Foreign Office will shift its blanket advice warning against “all but essential” travel, in place since 17 March, in light of the new developments.

Yet a legal challenge by the UK’s biggest airlines – British Airways, Ryanair and Easyjet – to the restrictions still went ahead in the High Court this morning.

3. UK manufacturers warn of job cuts

With Chancellor Rishi Sunak next week expected to unveil new measures to boost the economy, several sectors including the arts and hospitality are calling for more financial aid to help them stay in business.

In the meantime, a grim prediction comes from Make UK, the trade body representing manufacturers.

A large majority of UK manufacturing companies are preparing to cut jobs in the next six months, the FT reports.

A survey of Make UK members reveals that as furlough help begins to scale back, more than 40% of manufacturers expect to make redundancies before the year’s end.