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Europe

UK fast-tracks firms for customs roll as it readies for Brexit

Britain will automatically enroll nearly 90,000 companies in a customs system in order to reduce the risk of Brexit disruption, the government said, its latest attempt to show it can leave the European Union without a deal if necessary.

More than 88,000 companies which are in Britain’s value-added tax register will be allocated an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number in the next two weeks, the finance ministry said.

So far, around 72,000 firms have registered for EORI numbers which identify them for customs authorities.

“As the government accelerates its preparation to leave the EU on Oct. 31, it’s right businesses are prepared too,” finance minister Sajid Javid said.

[Reuters]

Explainer: A guide to the Brexit backstop, and why there’s a UK-EU standoff

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has made a fresh push to drop the so-called Irish backstop from the Brexit deal, renewing a demand the EU has repeatedly rejected.

In a letter to European Council President Donald Tusk, Johnson said that the backstop – an insurance policy to keep the Irish border open after Britain leaves the European Union – was “anti-democratic”, and demanded its removal from the stalled divorce deal.

The backstop would require Britain to obey some EU rules if no other way could be found to keep the land border between British-ruled Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland invisible. Dublin says this is crucial to maintaining peace on the island.

[Reuters]

Half of UK digital exports go to the EU, government data reveals

Almost half of the UK’s digital exports go to the European Union, recently published UK government figures have revealed, amid growing concerns in the tech industry ahead of the country’s scheduled departure from the EU at the end of 31 October.

In terms of goods, the UK exported £11.3 billion of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Sector goods to the other EU member states, 40.1% of total DCMS Sector goods exported by the UK, with goods from the digital sector, once again, having the largest share of this figure.

The UK government analysis further highlights that the European Union is a ‘key partner’ for trade across the sectors examined and that of specific EU countries, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, are particularly noteworthy trading partners.

[Euractiv]

Macron opposes Mercosur deal over Bolsonaro forest ‘lie’

French President Emmanuel Macron will oppose a trade deal “as it is” between the EU and South America’s Mercosur bloc because Brazil failed to meet its commitments to contain deforestation in the Amazon, an Elysée official said.

The EU and Mercosur concluded talks on a landmark trade agreement in June, after 20 years of negotiations.

The agreement can only enter into force if it wins the approval of all EU countries and passes a vote in the European Parliament.

[Politico]

Middle East

Logistics giant Panalpina to open Oman office

Switzerland-based international freight forwarding and logistics company Panalpina is planning to establish its presence in Oman, leveraging the company’s long-standing experience in project solutions and energy sector to support the sultanate’s burgeoning economic and infrastructural growth.

Panalpina Oman expects to open its office in Muscat by the end of the third quarter in 2019, the company said in a statement on its website.

Charles Francis, Panalpina’s country manager for Qatar, Kuwait and Oman, said, “Oman has become a pivotal geographical location for cargo flows to and from Qatar. Unlike some of the GCC countries, Oman has not introduced economic sanctions and its trade with Qatar has increased by more than three times since the embargo started two years ago.”

Panalpina’s operations in Oman were previously handled by an agent. Panalpina Oman will now cover core activities such as air freight, ocean freight and customs clearance.

[Muscat Daily]

Experts question effectiveness of online shopping limits in Jordan

In light of the new Cabinet decision to impose customs fees on e-commerce products ordered for personal use, some experts voiced concern saying  the decision might not help sectors involved.

For authorization of the products purchased online, customers have to visit www.customs.gov.jo to fill in the necessary data. Then they have to use their name to authorize the entry of the purchased products from any of the four categories, paying JD5 for each order up to JD50 and JD10 for each order between JD50 and JD100, without exceeding the annual cap.

[Jordan Times]

Africa

G7 Leaders, take a stand for Africa!

Africa is still heavily reliant on coal. To protect the climate, leading industrialized countries should help Africa to invest in clean growth and leapfrog to renewables, says former Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

Raila Amolo Odinga is a Kenyan politician who served as the Prime Minister of Kenya from 2008 to 2013 and is leader of the opposition since 2013. He is currently the African Union’s High Representative for infrastructure development in Africa.

[Euractiv]