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UK government steps up no-deal Brexit blame game

Britain’s Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay warned Wednesday (28 August) that the European Union would be blamed for its “lack of flexibility” on the Irish border question in the event of no-deal Brexit – a statement quickly rebutted by Ireland’s foreign minister.

Addressing a business conference in Paris, Barclay said that if Britain crashes out of the EU without a deal after the October 31 deadline, “people will question in future why there was such a lack of flexibility” from the EU.

He said they would wonder particularly “why, in the pursuit of a 100% guarantee of no risk on the Irish border at the end of 2020, we made real this risk in November.”

The statement was quickly rebutted by Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney who warned Europeans against investing too much energy on Brexit discussions.


Experts propose alternative to Brexit backstop

A team of experts, including a former high-ranking British official in the European Commission, has drawn up a plan to replace the Northern Ireland backstop, which has become the major hurdle to a Brexit deal.

They say the plan has already attracted “considerable interest.”

The proposal, drawn up by Jonathan Faull — who held several director general posts and was head of a special Commission task force on Brexit — and legal academics Joseph Weiler and Daniel Sarmiento, “maintains the integrity of both the EU’s single market and the UK’s territory;” “does not require Ireland to be treated differently from the rest of the EU or Northern Ireland to be treated differently from Great Britain;” and “does not tie the U.K. to the EU customs union, thus allowing the U.K. to pursue its own trade policy,” the group told POLITICO.


French minister eager to hold e-commerce platforms to account for VAT fraud

France’s minister of public action and accounts, Gérald Darmanin, wants to reform VAT collection for e-commerce platforms. The French minister also wishes to draw inspiration from the EU’s tax haven blacklist to establish a similar one for fraudulent platforms.

The minister wishes to transpose the European directive adopted on 5 December 2017, which aims to modernize and adapt VAT collection to the e-commerce industry.

The new text aims to combat VAT fraud, facilitate cross-border trade and therefore, mechanically increase revenue for the member states.

The European directive will have to be transposed by the member states by 1 January at the latest. This means that France would, therefore, be a step ahead of its European neighbors.



Middle East

17 countries under focus for exports in Turkey

Turkey has identified 17 countries and five strategic industries to boost the country’s exports under, Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan said on August 28 in an event in Istanbul where she unveiled the Export Master Plan.

“Those counties on our radar account for 60 percent of the world’s GDP while their share in global imports is 43.7 percent and their share in Turkey’s total exports is 25.2 percent,” the minister said.

“We also identified the machinery, automotive, electric-electronics, chemicals and food as the strategic industries. We target to increase the share of high-tech product exports in the country’s total exports to 5 percent from the current 3.5 percent,” Pekcan added.

[Hurriyet Daily News]



Egypt considers customs incentives for automotive-related industry

Egypt’s Ministry of Finance is studying a group of customs incentives aimed at increasing local components in the automotive industry.

The government is planning to up tariffs reductions for car-related industries, Egyptian finance minister, Mohamed Maait, said.

Customs incentives under consideration include boosting imports of eco-friendly busses and gas-fueled cars to capitalize on the boom in Egypt’s gas output, the minister added.