UK-EU trade slumps in first month of new Brexit rules

A truck drives towards the entrance to the Port of Dover, Britain, following the end of the Brexit transition period on January 15, 2021. (REUTERS/John Sibley//File Photo)
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Updated 13 March 2021
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UK-EU trade slumps in first month of new Brexit rules

  • Goods exports to EU slump by 41% in January; ONS warns data skewed by pandemic, stockpiling

LONDON: Trade between the UK and the EU was hammered in the first month of their new post-Brexit relationship, with record falls in British exports and imports of goods as COVID-19 restrictions continued on both sides.

British goods exports to the EU, excluding non-monetary gold and other precious metals, slumped by 40.7 percent in January compared to December, the Office for National Statistics said on Friday. Imports fell by 28.8 percent — another record.

The ONS said the COVID-19 pandemic, which left Britain under lockdown measures in January, made it hard to quantify the Brexit impact from new customs arrangements, and there were changes in the way data was collected too. But there were still signs of a Brexit hit.

Trade in chemicals was especially weak, reflecting the winding-down of a rush to stockpile pharmaceuticals ahead of the end of the Brexit transition period, the ONS said.

The ONS highlighted a 64 percent fall in exports of food and live animals to the EU — including shellfish and fish.

It pointed to delays caused by red tape reported by the Scottish Seafood Association, with consignment sign-offs reportedly taking six times longer.

FASTFACTS

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson says Britain’s new independent trade policy means it can focus on deals with faster-growing economies around the world, although many trade analysts are skeptical that this boost will outweigh lost EU trade.
  • Britain’s official budget forecaster says the country’s new trade arrangements with the EU, the world’s biggest single market, will erode its long-run productivity by 4 percent compared with staying in the bloc.
  • Britain’s overall goods trade deficit, including non-EU countries, narrowed to £9.826 billion in January from £14.315 billion in December.

“External evidence suggests some of the slower trade for goods in early January 2021 could be attributable to disruption caused by the end of the transition period,” the ONS said.

Many companies stockpiled goods in late 2020 to avoid any disruption, deepening the fall in trade in January.

The ONS said its separate business survey suggested that trade picked up toward the end of the month.

Britain on Thursday delayed the introduction of a range of post-Brexit import checks on goods from the EU by around six months, saying businesses needed more time to prepare because of the impact of the pandemic.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson says Britain’s new independent trade policy means it can focus on deals with faster-growing economies around the world, although many trade analysts are skeptical that this boost will outweigh lost EU trade.

Britain’s official budget forecaster says the country’s new trade arrangements with the EU, the world’s biggest single market, will erode its long-run productivity by 4 percent compared with staying in the bloc.

“This month’s unique combination of factors made it inevitable that we would see some unusual figures this January,” said David Frost, a senior minister who was Johnson’s chief Brexit negotiator.

Economists say the hit to EU trade — and any benefits from Brexit — will become clearer.

“While some of the non-tariff barriers to trade, such as the increase in red tape and form-filling, will be ironed out in the short term, the combination of COVID-19 and Brexit will ultimately prove to be a long-term drag on growth,” said Ana Boata, head of macroeconomic research at trade credit insurer Euler Hermes.

Britain’s overall goods trade deficit, including non-EU countries, narrowed to £9.826 billion in January from £14.315 billion in December.


Flydubai says expansion plans have been hindered by Boeing delays

Updated 22 July 2024
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Flydubai says expansion plans have been hindered by Boeing delays

DUBAI: Budget carrier flydubai’s fleet expansion plans have been hit by delays to Boeing’s aircraft delivery schedule, the Dubai airline said on Monday.
Flydubai said it is “evaluating its route development plans and potential frequency revision across the network due to a lack of new aircraft deliveries over the next few months.”
The statement added that Boeing’s delivery delays in recent years have placed substantial pressure on the airline and its ability to plan for its projected growth in the wake of strong post-pandemic demand for travel.


Saudi Arabia, Egypt to boost energy cooperation after high-level meeting

Updated 22 July 2024
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Saudi Arabia, Egypt to boost energy cooperation after high-level meeting

  • Ministers discussed various aspects of cooperation between the two countries

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and Egypt are set to boost energy cooperation following a meeting between top officials to expand ties in petroleum, gas, electricity, renewable energy, and hydrogen. 
On July 21, Saudi Minister of Energy Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman met with Egypt’s Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Karim Badawi and Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy Mahmoud Esmat at his ministry’s headquarters in Riyadh. 
During the meeting, the ministers discussed various aspects of cooperation between the two countries, aiming to align their efforts with the shared visions of their leaderships and the ambitions of their peoples, according to a statement from the Saudi Energy Ministry. 


National Housing Co. partners with Korean firm Naver to boost smart city solutions in the Kingdom  

Updated 9 min 11 sec ago
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National Housing Co. partners with Korean firm Naver to boost smart city solutions in the Kingdom  

RIYADH: The Saudi real estate sector is set to embrace advanced technologies after the National Housing Co. partnered with Korean tech firm Naver Corp. to enhance smart city solutions. 

The collaboration, formalized in the presence of Housing Minister Majid Al-Hogail, aims to integrate Digital Twin technology, utilizing Naver’s advanced cloud system.  

The technology mirrors real-world entities in a virtual environment, supporting real-time decision-making through data analysis, prediction, and optimization. It will be cloud-based, with a focus on three-dimensional digital modeling. 

This move aligns with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 goals, aiming to use this technology for urban planning and flood predictions while advancing smart city development.

The integration of Digital Twin technology is part of the Kingdom’s broader strategy to modernize its real estate sector and adopt cutting-edge solutions to enhance urban management and infrastructure efficiency. 

Minister Al-Hogail highlighted the significance of this partnership, stating on X that the deal opens the doors for innovation in digital solutions.

“Together, we achieve strategic visions for the municipalities and housing sectors in our relentless pursuit of sustainable smart cities,” he said.

This deal builds on Naver’s initial entry into the Middle East and Saudi markets in 2023 by establishing a contract with the ministries of investment and housing to use their systems.

The ambitious roadmap also includes amalgamating advanced technologies such as AI, robotics, and cloud solutions. 

The company emphasized the platform’s open-ended architecture, fostering collaborations with local Saudi and South Korean entities.

Abdullah Al-Ghamdi, the president of the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority, visited the firm’s site in May, denoting the establishment’s long-standing relationship with the Kingdom.

During the meeting, potential collaborations between the two entities were discussed, as SDAIA is responsible for strategy, research, and development in the AI, data, and smart city sectors in Saudi Arabia. 

Officials from other major Saudi institutions, including the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, the National Information Center, and the National Data Management Office, have also paid visits to the site to experience the company’s technological advancements and discuss collaborative opportunities, a release on the Korean entity’s website revealed.

This comes after Naver became part of the “One Team Korea” consortium in November 2022. The partnership sought to secure Saudi projects under the patronage of South Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport.


Oil Updates – prices rise as investors look for signs US rate cuts to begin

Updated 22 July 2024
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Oil Updates – prices rise as investors look for signs US rate cuts to begin

TOKYO: Oil prices rose in early trade on Monday as investors keep a lookout for signs of a rate-cut cycle expected to begin as soon as September, according to Reuters.

Brent crude prices were up 48 cents, or 0.57 percent, at $83.10 a barrel by 2:35 a.m. Saudi time, and US West Texas Intermediate crude futures rose 42 cents, or 0.52 percent, to $80.55.

“Since the June FOMC meeting, inflation and labor market data have signalled that disinflation and labor market rebalancing are in place, which we expect will allow the Fed to begin its interest rate cutting cycle in September,” ANZ Research said in a note.

The US Federal Reserve will next hold a Federal Open Market Committee meeting on interest rates on July 30-31, at which investors expect the Fed to keep the rates unchanged, while looking for any signal of a cut coming later in the year.

On the political front, US President Joe Biden abandoned his reelection bid on Sunday under pressure from fellow Democrats and endorsed Vice President Kamala Harris as the party’s candidate to face Republican Donald Trump in November.

Slower-than-expected economic growth of 4.7 percent for China in the second quarter sparked concerns last week over the country’s demand for oil and continues to weigh on prices.

On Sunday, China released a policy document outlining known ambitions, from developing advanced industries to improving the business environment, with analysts spotting no sign of imminent structural shifts in the world’s second-biggest economy.

The 60-point document’s publication follows last week’s closed-door meeting of the Communist Party’s Central Committee that takes place roughly every five years. 


Global AI Summit in Riyadh to host top-level discussions on AI impact 

Updated 22 July 2024
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Global AI Summit in Riyadh to host top-level discussions on AI impact 

  • The event, organized by the Saudi Data and AI Authority, will focus on one of today’s most pressing global issues — AI technology

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia will welcome economic policymakers, major technology and artificial intelligence companies, international thought leaders, and heads of international organizations to Riyadh this September as the Global AI Summit returns for its third edition.

The event, organized by the Saudi Data and AI Authority, will focus on one of today’s most pressing global issues — AI technology — and will attempt to find solutions that “maximize the potential of these transformative technologies for the benefit of humanity,” a statement released Sunday said.

The third edition of the event will be held at the King Abdulaziz International Conference Center from Sept. 10 to 12 under the patronage of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in his capacity as chairman of the board of directors at SDAIA, the statement added.

The GAIN Summit will take place amid increasing concerns about the impact of AI technologies and will reaffirm the Kingdom’s commitment to supporting international efforts aimed at enhancing human welfare in the face of the challenges associated with developing technology.

GAIN 2024 will focus more on AI than its previous editions in 2020 and 2022, with topics including innovation in the sector, key developments shaping a better future for AI, and fostering a supportive environment for human resources in the field.

Other topics include AI at local and global levels, the complementary relationship between humans and AI, business leaders in AI, the relationship between data and applications, GenAI, AI ethics, AI processors and infrastructure, and AI and smart cities.