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British lawmakers finally approve historic Brexit deal

Britain’s parliament finally approved Brexit on Thursday (9 January), allowing it to become the first country to leave the European Union by the end of this month, ending years of arguments that toppled two governments and divided a nation.

All eyes are now on another major challenge: the negotiation of a new relationship between Britain and the remaining 27 EU nations, which form the world’s largest single market.

The Brexit deal covers separation issues such as EU citizens’ rights and Britain’s financial settlement, and sets out an 11-month transition period in which to agree a wider partnership.

Brussels warns the current deadline of 31 December this year is extremely tight, and has given London the option to ask for more time. But Johnson insists there will be no extension of the transition period, saying that Britain must be free of EU rules as soon as possible.

Ahead of talks with Johnson on Wednesday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said it would be “basically impossible” to agree everything within London’s timeframe. In response, Johnson’s office indicated that it could accept a partial trade deal.


Norway hopes for China free-trade deal in 2020, industry minister says

Norway aims to reach a free-trade agreement with China by the end of 2020, more than a decade after initial negotiations began, the Norwegian industry minister told Reuters on Wednesday.

“By the end of last year we had good progress in the talks … we continue to be optimistic and think it is realistic to get a deal in place during the year,” Torbjoern Roe Isaksen told Reuters during an industry conference in Oslo.

Recent discussions have revolved around tariff levels and market access for an array of products, he said, without elaborating.

Talks on a free-trade pact began in 2008, but relations between Oslo and Beijing were frozen from 2010 to 2016 after the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to a Chinese dissident.

Norway is western Europe’s top producer of oil and gas and the world’s largest maker of farmed salmon.



Middle East

UPS survey: 82% of small and medium businesses in the GCC rely on cross-border trade as primary revenue generator

UPS announced the findings of a survey which captures current shipping behaviors and trends among small and medium businesses in the UAE and across the GCC. The results highlight that 82% of participating SMBs export either regularly or intermittently, which reveals that most of them are heavily dependent on trade as the primary channel for revenue generation.

“With a rising number of small businesses entering the e-commerce space, there is a continuing need to work with logistics providers who are able to keep pace with the technological requirements and demands of a fast-changing online world,” said Hussein Wehbe, managing director for UPS in the Middle East. “The survey also shows that companies expect their logistics partners to support them in areas such as providing with a variety of service options, customs brokerage and transit time visibility. Small businesses understand that the capabilities of their logistics partners are as important as their own to become or remain competitive in the global marketplace.”

UPS commissioned UAE-based SME10X to conduct the survey within the local SMB sector to understand sentiments and outlook towards e-commerce. SME10X covered a large sample of more than 5,000 SMBs in the GCC across key sectors including manufacturing, services and trading, and analyzed the results based on the participation of 1,153 respondents.

UPS has operated in the region since 1989 and strategically located its Indian Subcontinent, Middle East and Africa headquarters in Dubai. It was chosen as the Official Logistics Partner for Expo 2020 Dubai which is enabling UPS to demonstrate its global expertise and experience in international trade and shipping.


Saudi Customs launches new data correction program for importers

Saudi Customs has launched a new data program aimed at streamlining administrative services for importers and investors.

The authority’s auto-adjustment initiative will enable commercial importers to voluntarily correct their customs data following specific terms and procedures.

Undersecretary for revenues at Saudi Customs, Dr. Mazen Al-Zamil, said the scheme, introduced on January 1, would help to promote transparency with investors and the business sector while improving customs compliance and stability of growth for import companies.

Under the program, Al-Zamil added that importers would be able to apply for customs fees related to inaccurate information on value, origin and type of goods, and input data not declared to Saudi Customs.

He noted that when stakeholders applied for a correction before the discovery of a data error by Saudi Customs or the issue of subsequent audits on restrictions and records, they only needed to pay the differences in customs fees and taxes.

Importers can submit correction requests for six months via the initiative’s portal on the Saudi Customs website.

[Arab News]



TUV Rheinland appointed as an authorized inspection body to issue Certificates of Conformity (CoC) in Morocco

The Moroccan Ministry of Industry, Trade, Green and Digital Economy appointed TUV Rheinland as an authorized inspection body for the newly implemented Verification of Conformity Program starting on the 01 February 2020 which is applicable to products imported into Morocco. The new Moroccan Program is in fulfillment of the Law 24-09 related to products and services security, complemented by Decree no. 02-212 and Decree no. 3873-13.

This appointment makes TUV Rheinland as one of the first appointed inspection bodies for the program.

The program mandates the issuance of a Certificate of Conformity for all regulated products consignments entering into the Kingdom of Morocco by traders through authorized inspection bodies in order to achieve a smooth customs clearance.

This is part of the Moroccan government’s ongoing efforts to assure products conformity and quality through compliance to the national technical standards and regulations in order to protect consumers against unsafe and non-compliant products to standards.

The products regulated within the framework of Verification of Conformity program are available on the website of The Minister of Industry, Trade, Green and Digital Economy on the following link: List of regulated products in Morocco.

[PR Newswire]