What you missed over Christmas: Inflation threat, New Year's Honours for exporters and pints of wine

Tue 2 Jan 2024
Posted by: Phillip Adnett
Trade News
Christmas trading

Over the Christmas period, many of us switched off phones and laptops and took the chance to recharge ourselves, spending time with families rather than following the ins-and-outs of international trade.

So, to bring you up to speed as you return to the office, IOE&IT Daily Update brings you the key trade stories you might have missed over the holidays.

Shipping costs

Experts have warned that continued attacks by Houthi rebels on commercial vessels could hit the price of food.

Shippers, such as Maersk, paused or modified ship movements through the Red Sea in response to the attacks.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) warned the disruption could raise insurance rates and transport costs, which could have a knock-on effect for consumers.

“We are about to see increases to pricing in supermarkets, as it’s the products that are coming through now that have been impacted,” Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT) director general, Marco Forgione, told iNews.

“We are in for what could be a very difficult time that may well take longer than a few months to resolve.”

Despite the creation of ‘Operation Prosperity Guardian’, a joint international naval task force launched to protect international shipping, Forgione warned that delays and prices rises were likely. 

“It is impossible to say how much the price increases will be yet, but we will see them in the coming weeks.

“We will absolutely see pressure on supermarket prices and pressure on the global inflation rate.”

Honours for exporters

A number of high-profile members of the international trade community were recognised in the 2023 King’s New Year’s Honours list.

Charles Woodburn, CEO of BAE Systems, was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to international trade, while Catherine McBride, a member of the Trade and Agriculture Commission, was awarded an Officers of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to trade policy.

Rachel Gaisburgh-Watkyn, managing director of Tiny Box Company, Munir Patel, CEO of XRAIL Group and Ashley Pigott, chairman and managing director of AJ Power all received OBEs for their services to exports.

Members of the Department for Business and Trade (DBT) who received recognition included chief trade negotiation adviser Crawford Falconer, who was made Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG), and two UK Export Finance regional leads, Elizabeth McCrory and Phillip Potter, both of whom were awarded Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE).

Business and trade secretary Kemi Badenoch said:

“These outstanding individuals embody the enterprising spirit found across the UK, from exporting original produce, to helping others grow their businesses.”

CPTPP boost?

The government has claimed that festive exports to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) area rose significantly in 2023.

DBT said that the sales of British festive goods – including chocolate, gin, whisky and sparkling wine – to CPTPP countries enjoyed significant increases last year.

Badenoch said that this was proof that the government’s tilt towards the Indo-Pacific was paying off for exporters, adding that “once we become a fully-fledged CPTPP member, tariffs on more than 99% of UK goods will be set at 0%.”

The UK is set to formally join the CPTPP in 2024.

New Deal for Farming

Labour has pledged a “new deal” for the UK’s farmers, which would include a new veterinary deal with the EU, moves to improve food security and a target that at least 50% of food used in hospitals, schools and prisons must be British in origin.

According to the Guardian, Labour attacked the Conservatives for their “destruction” of the rural economy, pointing to research that showed more than 6,300 firms in the UK agricultural sector had gone out of business since 2017.

Steve Reed, shadow environment, food and rural affairs secretary, said:

“Labour will give British farmers their future back. We will deliver lower energy bills for farmers by switching on GB Energy, lower red tape at our borders to get our great food exports flowing again and use the government’s own purchasing power to back British produce.”

Mark Spencer, the minister of state for food, farming and fisheries, said in response that the Conservatives “had delivered better targeted funding for farmers, protecting our best farmland and speeding up our grid connections for those who need it most.”

Pints of wine

It will now be possible to buy and sell still and sparkling wine in 2024 in pint bottles under regulatory changes announced by DBT.

Under the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Act 2023, British shoppers are now able to buy ‘pints’ of wine in UK supermarkets, with DBT saying that the government is taking advantage of “new Brexit freedoms.”

Nicola Bates, CEO of WineGB, said that her organisation welcomed “the chance to be able to harmonise still and sparkling bottle sizes”.

According to the government, the Windsor Framework meant that newly packaged wine will be able to be sold by bars, restaurants and retailers in Northern Ireland, with the products moving under the Northern Ireland Retail Movement Scheme, under the retail “Green Lane”.


The image used in this article was generated via AI.