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Cheese, French wines, planes on Trump target list for $7.5B retaliation award

U.S. President Donald Trump plans to slap punitive tariffs on about $7.5 billion worth of European aircraft, agricultural and industrial goods later this month after the United States won an important victory in a ruling before the global trade body that handles trade disputes.

The action brings a 15-year-old case one step closer to resolution while allowing Trump to impose tariffs with the official blessing of the World Trade Organization. That’s in contrast to his earlier actions that unilaterally set duties on steel and aluminum imports, which other countries believe violate global trade rules.

The WTO authorized the Trump administration to impose duties after it decided that the EU failed to completely end illegal loan subsidy programs for Airbus. The EU argues it has taken meaningful steps to comply and expects the WTO to validate that in a separate ruling.


The impact of US sanctions on European goods: a closer look

Scotch single malt whisky, German decals, Spanish stuffed olives, British cotton bed linen. These products have one thing in common: the US plans to tax them at 25%.

The US announced it would impose tariffs that amount to 10% on aircraft and 25% on certain German and British industrial products, as well as on French, Spanish and Italian food products.

Unless an amicable agreement between the US and the EU is reached, these will apply from 18 October.


Brexit: What is Boris Johnson’s plan to avoid a hard Irish border?

Boris Johnson has outlined his plan to the European Union (EU) to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland after Brexit.

Mr. Johnson said the plan “removes the so-called backstop”.

The backstop is the insurance policy negotiated by Theresa May and the EU. It is designed to avoid any physical border infrastructure, which it is feared would bring back memories of the Troubles, after Brexit. It would keep the UK in the same customs territory as the EU, and Northern Ireland closely tied to EU regulations – until the UK and the EU reach a trade deal. But it would stop the UK striking its own trade deals, which is why so many Conservative MPs, including Mr. Johnson, oppose the backstop.

So, what is his alternative?


Will Johnson’s Brexit plan work for business?

Quite naturally the response to the Prime Minister’s new Brexit offer to the European Union has focused on the impact in Ireland and Northern Ireland. But set behind the important complexities of Irish regulatory alignment and the PM’s reference to “de minimis” customs checks in Ireland is a more fundamental shift about the overall shape of a future relationship with the European Union.

It is a substantial change from the deal negotiated by Theresa May that would have seen the UK, in Boris Johnson’s words, as “closely integrated” with EU custom arrangements and “aligned with EU law in many areas”.

The PM wrote to Jean Claude Juncker: “That proposed future relationship is not the goal of the current UK Government”. That is why he says the backstop is a “bridge to nowhere”. But in overall economic terms it is vitally important in and of itself.

The new plan means the UK will no longer be closely integrated or aligned with EU law in many areas, and that is therefore of significant consequence to those industries dependent on existing frictionless trading arrangements.


Middle East

GCC leads in ease of doing business

Four GCC countries – Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar – have been listed among the World Bank’s top 20 improvers in its Ease of Doing Business 2020 list, along with India and Pakistan.

The UAE last year jumped 10 places to 11th in the ranking.

It also maintained first position among Arab countries. As a result of new measures taken by the GCC for ease of doing business, it can be expected that the four GCC countries will see further improvements in their rankings. However, the UAE will maintain its top position in the region as it is well ahead of its peers.

Bahrain is ranked 62nd globally followed by Oman (78th), Qatar (83rd), Saudi Arabia (92nd) and Kuwait (97th).


Turkey, Jordan sign agreement to boost bilateral trade

Turkey and Jordan signed a framework agreement for a joint economic committee (JEC) to raise bilateral trade, Turkish trade minister announced late on October 1.

Jordanian Industry, Trade and Supply Minister Tariq Hammouri along with a delegation visited the capital Ankara for the agreement, Ruhsar Pekcan said in a Twitter post.

She said the framework agreement, which establishes the JEC, will boost bilateral trade and economic relations.

[Hurriyet Daily News]



EU launches negotiations to deepen trade relations with Eastern and Southern Africa countries

The EU started negotiations with five Eastern and Southern Africa partners (so-called ESA: Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles and Zimbabwe) to deepen the existing Economic Partnership Agreement. Given the positive results generated by the current agreement, now in its 8th year of implementation, the five countries have declared their readiness to move beyond trade in goods, towards a more comprehensive agreement. The EU has welcomed this step, especially in the context of the Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs.

Since the initial agreement started to apply in 2012, exports of goods from the five ESA countries to the EU have increased by almost a quarter, reaching nearly €2.8 billion in 2018. European businesses are also increasingly investing in the region. The new agreement should cover other important trade related areas and trade related rules, such as services, investment, technical barriers to trade, intellectual property rights as well as trade and sustainable development.

[European Commission]

France offers a conference on Sudan’s debt if U.S. lifts sanctions

France will host a conference with Sudan’s international creditors to help Khartoum address debt issues as soon as the United States removes the country from its state-sponsored terrorism list.

In efforts to stabilize the country and to repair an economy battered by years of U.S. sanctions and government mismanagement during Omar al-Bashir’s 30-year rule, Sudanese transition government led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok is holding talks with Washington to see Sudan withdrawn from the list.

“As soon as the Americans make their decision, we will be able to restructure the debt together,” Macron said at a joint press conference with Hamdok in Paris.

“I have decided that France will host an international conference with private and public international creditors,” he added.