'Shock and awe' government ads to remind firms of transition's end: key stories in today's press

Fri 19 Jun 2020
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

campaign megaphone

With just six months away until the end of transition on 31 December, today’s press is dominated by the government’s efforts to rachet up preparations and messaging to businesses.

As IOE&IT journalists searched today's national news headlines for global trade stories (so that you don’t have to), the first that caught the eye was about a marketing campaign designed to shock UK businesses.

1. ‘Shock and awe’ – a government marketing campaign designed to jolt UK firms

Based on the behavioural science theory of ‘nudging’ people into taking action, the ad campaign will warn businesses and the general public of the “consequences of not taking action” in preparation for transition’s end.

A tender document for the work was found online by research company Tussell, according to the news website politico.eu, with the government reportedly spending £4.5m on the campaign.

The document calls ‘The Transition Campaign’ the “most important” government communications effort this year.

It starts in July and will also promote the “new opportunities” of a liberalised economy. 

Dubbed a ‘shock and awe’ campaign (a term borrowed from the invasion of Iraq in 2003), and devised by ad agency MullenLowe London, the message to prepare for transition’s end will appear on TV, posters and digital channels.

2. ‘No grace period’ from EU for customs around UK exports

The EU will impose full customs controls and checks on UK goods from the start of 2021, Bloomberg reports.

Speaking on a Chatham House webinar yesterday (Thursday 18 June), the EU’s ambassador to the UK said that the bloc won’t reciprocate the UK’s six-month grace period for traders when the transition period ends.

Joao Vale de Almeida said the EU would be `forcible and systematic’ in defending the single market from 1 January 2021. 


3. UK trade deal with EU could feature compromise on regulatory ‘level playing field’

Behind the undeniable élan of yesterday’s visit by French president Emmanuelle Macron to London was some practical talking with his UK counterpart, prime minister Boris Johnson.

According to the Financial Times, on the table at 10 Downing Street was a compromise in which the UK could accept tariffs on UK goods if it undercuts EU regulations on issues such as labour and the environment.

Johnson is, the paper says, willing to consider the tariff compromise in order to unlock the stalemate in trade deal talks, ahead of their restart in earnest on 29 June.

However the FT reminds readers that EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier has consistently said that “tariffs are no substitute” for the UK agreeing to adhere to a set of common rules and standards on employment, health & safety and the environment.


4. ‘Exhausted’ cargo crews desperate to disembark

Calling cargo ships ‘the arteries of global trade’, CNN reports that 200,000 seafarers who extended their contracts by months to keep supplies of food and medicine flowing during the COVID-19 pandemic, are now close to exhaustion.

Many container ship workers “now want off their ships,” according the International Transport Workers’ Federation representing about half of the world’s seafarers, CNN says.

Emergency extensions to contracts are now expiring, and the ITWF is helping its members “exercise their legal rights to stop working and return home”, with consequences for the smooth flow of global trade as businesses reopen.