UK secures vital rollover trade deal with Canada and agrees to start negotiating more advanced deal next year
The UK and Canada have locked in their existing trading relationship, worth £20 billion, and agreed to begin negotiating a new more ambitious trade deal as early as next year.
On a video call on Saturday (November 21), Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, joined by International Trade Secretary Liz Truss and her Canadian counterpart, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade Mary Ng agreed an ‘agreement in principle’ to roll over current EU-Canada trading arrangements and begin negotiations on a new, bespoke UK-Canada trade deal in 2021.
The agreement to rollover provisions of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) gives certainty for UK businesses exporting goods and services to Canada worth £11.4 billion. It will support the British automotive manufacturing and food and drink industries which between them provide jobs for more than half a million people across the UK.
Overall, an estimated £42 million tariff burden on UK exports has been saved.
Shift to online complicates Brexit talks endgame
Brexit negotiators have claimed for weeks that a deal was virtually within reach. Now the talks have actually gone virtual — after an EU negotiator tested positive for coronavirus — but there’s still no sign of an agreement, the European Commission told EU ambassadors Friday (November 20).
The shift to negotiating by videoconference is just the latest setback in the talks, and while officials said it was more of an annoyance than anything more serious, there is little margin for error given the tight timetable.
The Commission on Friday briefed EU ambassadors on the state of play of the negotiations, which are already playing overtime.
According to several EU officials and diplomats, the message was similar to the one they’ve been hearing for some time: There is significant progress in a number of areas (and negotiators are even closing in on a legal text), but gaps are only slowly shrinking on the core issues of fisheries, the so-called level playing field — making sure that the U.K. cannot undercut the bloc after it has left — and the governance of the deal.
There is still hope that negotiations can be finalized quickly “once the necessary political decisions in London are taken,” an EU diplomat said. For weeks, Brussels has been insisting that the ball is in London’s court, and that message was repeated by diplomats after Friday’s meeting.
“Progress hinges on a political shift in London,” another EU diplomat said. “If London moves, this agreement can be closed quickly. But that remains a big if.”
Thank you for joining us for the final session of our three-part webinar series on Brexit.
You can access the recordings on the STTAS YouTube channel here:
Session 1: https://youtu.be/DabdeANpLMQ
Session 2: https://youtu.be/_1lwfPb64-A
Session 3: https://youtu.be/G2TqLXVc0nw
We are finishing up typed answers to the Q&A we received. Once the Q&As are ready, we’ll post them along with all of our Brexit materials on our website.
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Iraq-Saudi Arabia border crossing opens for trade, first time since 1990
Iraq and Saudi Arabia opened the Arar border crossing for trade for the first time in three decades, the Iraqi border ports commission said on Wednesday (November 18).
Arar has been closed since 1990 after the two countries cut ties following Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait.
Iraqi and Saudi officials including the Saudi ambassador to Iraq toured the site on Wednesday.
Riyadh has been wooing Baghdad as part of an effort to stem the growing regional influence of Iran, while Iraq is seeking economic benefits from closer ties with its southern neighbour.
The Saudi-Iraqi rapprochement extends back to 2015, when Saudi Arabia reopened its embassy in Baghdad following a 25-year break.
Dubai Customs handles 688,000 duty refund claims, worth $1.25bln in 9 months
Dubai Customs has handled 688,201 duty refund transactions valued at AED4.6 billion in the first nine months of 2020.
The Smart Refund System helped toward this achievement by reducing customers’ time and cost, through simpler and more precise calculations. The system has substantially reduced the time required to refund duty deposits to traders and customers, Dubai Customs said in a statement on Saturday (November 21).
“Dubai Customs is moving steadily toward the UAE’s 50th Anniversary, fulfilling all 4th industrial revolution requirements and expectations through adoption of the latest cutting-edge Artificial Intelligence, AI, customs systems and projects,” said Ahmed Mahboob Musabih, Director-General of Dubai Customs.
“This places Dubai in its right position to be the smartest city in the world, and fulfilling Dubai Customs’ vision of becoming the leading customs administration in the world supporting legitimate trade. The outstanding economic performance and figures indicate the quick recovery from the repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic,” Musabih pointed out.