Don’t miss my new article on Smart Borders in the World Trade Matters Magazine.

You can now read the Winter 2019 edition of #WorldTradeMatters online!

Focusing on the theme of ‘How cross border trade really happens’.

export.org.uk/page/worldtradematters

Dutch PM says there’s a ’50-50′ chance Britain will reach trade deal with the EU this year.

Brussels fears trade talks will hit the buffers early because Boris Johnson is making the same mistakes as Theresa May – with Dutch PM Mark Rutte putting the chances of a deal this year at “50-50”.

Eurocrats say early skirmishes ahead of the start of negotiations feel like “2017 all over again” with the PM laying down rigid red lines.

They are worried that he has adopted a series of tough positions he will struggle to move from and set an unrealistic timeframe for a deal.

Mr. Rutte warned there was a “risk that we might get to a cliff edge again” due to the deadline imposed by the PM.

And one senior EU source told The Sun: “They’re making a textbook repeat of the same mistakes.

“If a managed No Deal is the strategy, to try and put pressure on EU unity and force a series of sectoral agreements, once again it won’t work.”

Mr Johnson has taken a tough stance on diverging from Brussels rules and taking back Britain’s fishing waters that has alarmed EU officials.

“There’s a ’50-50′ chance Britain will reach trade deal with the EU this year” Mark Rutte

He has also ruled out extending the transition beyond the end of the year, leaving just eight months in which to negotiate a trade deal.

Member States are worried the PM will water down state aid, labour, and environmental laws to give UK firms a competitive edge over continental rivals.

But speaking in Davos, the Chancellor Sajid Javid tried to reassure EU chiefs that Britain “won’t diverge just for the sake of it” after Brexit.

Mr Johnson’s deal took a big step closer to being passed in Brussels as key MEPs backed its approval.

The Constitutional Affairs Committee voted by 23-3 in favour of the agreement – with Brexit Party member Rupert Lowe among those supporting it.

Source: TheSun

Ports operator DP World is poised to expand its vast London Gateway container terminal in Essex now that political uncertainty is in the rear-view mirror, its chief ­executive said.

The firm is poised to award a major contract to build at least one new container shipping berth, Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem said – adding to the three existing ones at the Thurrock site, which has capacity for six.

DP World has a network of more than 80 terminals around the world, handling 15pc of the world’s container shipping traffic.

It has invested over £1.5bn already in the UK, including the London Gateway, which first opened in 2010. Mr Sulayem delayed the expansion plans last autumn. He said that firms had been reluctant to bid for the contract before the Brexit impasse was resolved, “but now it is OK”.

“Freeports in the world today are an engine of development. The biggest problem for business is changes in government policy, but with freeports or a special economic zone, those risks are removed.”

A fourth berth would allow the Gateway to handle around 3.5m containers a year, up from around 2m, and taking it within range of Felixstowe, the UK’s largest container port.

UK firms are in the running for the contract, which is at the tender stage. Mr ­Sulayem said: “I am sure they will start this year.”

The ports chief also gave strong support for Boris Johnson’s policy of establishing 10 new low tax, low regulation free ports as a “benefit” of leaving the EU.

He said: “It was music to my ears when I heard it.”

“The ports chief also gave strong support for Boris Johnson’s policy of establishing 10 new low tax, low regulation free ports as a ‘benefit’ of leaving the EU”

Legislation allowing free ports lapsed in 2012 and the EU has opposed them because of fears over state-backed competition with conventional ports.

But Mr Sulayem said: “Freeports in the world today are an engine of development. The biggest problem for business is changes in government policy, but with freeports or a special economic zone, those risks are removed.”

Source: The Telegraph

The Queen has today given the Brexit Bill Royal Assent, finally passing the UK’s withdrawal into law.

Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans announced the news this afternoon in the House of Commons.

Boris Johnson has signed the Brexit withdrawal agreement in Downing Street.

The prime minister hailed a “fantastic moment” for the country after he put his name to the historic agreement, which paves the way for the UK’s exit from the European Union next Friday.

He said he hoped it would “bring to an end far too many years of argument and division”.

Earlier on Friday, European leaders signed the document in Brussels, before it was transported to London by train.

The signings mark another step in the ratification process, following Parliament’s approval of the Brexit bill earlier this week. The European Parliament will vote on the agreement on 29 January.

Downing Street officials said the PM marked the document with a Parker fountain pen, as is traditional for ceremonial signings in No 10.

It was witnessed by EU and Foreign Office officials, including the PM’s Chief Negotiator David Frost, and Downing Street staff.

“The signing is a fantastic moment, which finally delivers the result of the 2016 referendum and brings to an end far too many years of argument and division,” Mr Johnson said.

“We can now move forward as one country – with a government focused upon delivering better public services, greater opportunity and unleashing the potential of every corner of our brilliant UK, while building a strong new relationship with the EU as friends and sovereign equals.”

Earlier on Friday, the document crossed the channel on a Eurostar train, having been signed in Brussels by the European Council’s president Charles Michel and the European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen.

The UK will keep a copy of the agreement while the original will return to Brussels, where it will be stored in an archive along with other historic international agreements.

Next week’s European Parliament vote is seen as all but a formality, after it was backed by the parliament’s constitutional affairs committee on Thursday.

Mrs von der Leyen and other senior EU figures are sceptical about the UK government’s plan to negotiate a comprehensive deal on future relations before the end of 2020. They believe the timetable for that is too tight.

But Prime Minister Boris Johnson is upbeat, insisting the UK can now move forward after years of wrangling over Brexit.

Mr Michel, the former Belgian Prime Minister who chairs EU summits, said in a tweet: “Things will inevitably change but our friendship will remain. We start a new chapter as partners and allies.”

They can no longer rely on aid or natural resources

What is it like being a taxman in Africa? “A lot of sleepless nights,” says Yankuba Darboe, the Gambia’s top revenue official, describing the pressure to meet targets. Politicians across Africa are asking ever more of their tax collectors, with good reason.

The biggest hole in public coffers is not money squandered or stolen, but that which is never collected in the first place.

Government revenues average about 17% of gdp in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the imf. Nigeria has more than 300 times as many people as Luxembourg, but collects less tax. If Ethiopia shared out its tax revenues equally, each citizen would get around $80 a year.

Uncollected taxes, not money squandered or stolen, are responsible for the biggest hole in public coffers in Africa.⁠

Nigeria has more than 300 times as many people as Luxembourg, but collects less tax.⁠

Out of 71 Ugandan government officials, just one paid any personal income tax in 2013/14.⁠

Taxation has not been taken seriously before—and so it has been very easy to tax-dodge in some African nations.

To read the entire article, click here: African governments are trying to collect more tax

Source: The Economist