The front page of the Guardian tomorrow.

Shanker Songham writes about the chance if getting a deal in The Telegraph.

Only a very small circle of people know exactly what is being proposed by the UK in the Brexit negotiations – or, for that matter, what the EU has deemed acceptable – but some clear patterns are emerging.

The discipline of both sides has been much better than in the past, with a minimum of briefing and counter-briefing. This is a good sign. More briefing means less of a chance of a deal.

As the two sides close in on what we hope will be a deal acceptable to a majority in the Parliament, there are some key points that need to be borne in mind by the various protagonists. 

First, on the revised Northern Ireland Protocol, as long as Northern Ireland remains legally in the UK’s customs territory, it can fully benefit from the UK’s trade policy.

Having Northern Ireland in a common regulatory area with the EU for industrial goods and agrifood will not damage UK trade policy. Nor will it prevent the province from benefiting from the improvements and concessions the UK is able to secure from other countries through trade agreements, provided Great Britain is sovereign, free and unencumbered. None of our trading partners take the view that they will not give the UK a concession on services because they cannot have regulatory flexibility in Northern Ireland. The consent mechanism, meanwhile, would appear to be satisfactorily resolvable for all sides; the concept seems broadly accepted now.  

On customs, the common regulatory area is an elegant solution. It leaves unresolved only customs declarations, which are electronic, and physical checks for rule of origin compliance (which can be after the event and do not have to impede the flow of goods), assuming there is an free trade agreement between the UK and EU with zero tariffs. 

If the UK can get the same commitment on the use of the Registered Exporters scheme that the Canadians obtained in the Canada-EU trade deal, or the use of importer’s knowledge which the Japanese obtained in the EU-Japan agreement, then after a one-time registration it will be sufficient for firms to simply declare the origin of their goods, unless customs authorities have some evidence of fraud.

When Leo Varadkar talks about minimising the customs processes that traders will feel, this comes pretty close to mimicking the status quo. A small trader in Northern Ireland would have to fill in electronic declarations, or more likely a freight forwarder, trucking company or other logistics service provider would do so. The only risk is that at some point, a customs official might visit their premises to ensure that they are not violating the rules of origin of the UK-EU free trade agreement. Because of the frontier traffic exemption of the WTO, this would never occur in a band on either side of the border. The increased burden will be slight, and would be much less intrusive than requiring traders to reclaim duties paid in a port or harbour in the Irish Sea.

We have presented a number of proposals on how to tackle the risk of smuggling, led by my colleagues Tony Smith and Lars Karlsson. The first thing to say is that there is already smuggling on the island of Ireland involving excise and VAT, and that there is considerable smuggling at the EU’s external and internal borders. So our goal is not to eliminate smuggling but to make sure that the risk of it does not rise to unacceptable levels.

Here, incentives matter. Large-scale smuggling will only happen where there are large enough tariff differentials such as in agriculture if the UK gradually liberalises, or where there is an anti-dumping order in the EU but no such order in the UK. 

Our proposal here is to have both the UK and EU enforce each other’s anti-circumvention laws with respect to duties and in particular in anti-dumping cases, to use criminal and draconian penalties for violations. We suggest using the Good Friday Agreement bodies to also monitor trade patterns, as it will be relatively easy to tell whether volumes of imports into Northern Ireland are increasing in a suspicious manner. If goods are subject to an EU anti-dumping order and not a UK order, we could even require those goods to be licensed if they are being traded in the island of Ireland which would give additional security and protect the EU’s single market and customs union. The point is that smuggling can never be stopped, and that if you are relying on customs interventions to stop smuggling, you have already lost.

It seems we have come down to the very technical question of the difference between a customs check and a customs declaration, and how the look and feel of these processes can be made as little different for Northern Ireland traders as they experience now. With the world’s economy so fragile, such a technical point should not stop an EU-UK deal. Let us hope the statesmen prevail.

Shanker Singham is Chairman of the Alternative Arrangements Commission Technical Panel

Source: The Telegraph

16 days to Brexit. Two fays to the EU Summit. Is there a new deal on the way? The talks are on-going and the two negotiating teams are working around the clock.

I thinkt here is an opening, a landing zone. We will know within 24 hours.

If so, and there are still a lot of things that can go wrong, naturally the next step will be for the UK PM Boris Johnson to get such a deal approved by the House. Another thriller.

Exiting days.

The Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, also known as The Nobel and Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, commonly referred to as the Nobel Prize in Economics, is an award for outstanding contributions.

The prize is this year awarded to Abhijit Banerjee, MIT, Esther Duflo, MIT and Michael Kremer, Harvard.

This is great. Not only since Esther Duflo is only the second female proze winner ever, but foremost for the reason of the prize.

Award winners are rewarded for their work in identifying the measures that are most effective in combating global poverty. In doing so, they step right into the debate where the legitimacy of unemployment assistance is in question and more and more want to move away from the one-percent goal of Swedish aid.

Their most important efforts are that they design field trials and field studies, which test different interventions and refine them to give better results.

For somebody like me that have worked in more than 120 countries, modt of them developing countries and enämerging economies is this fantastic news. Congratulations.

Now let us use these scientific advancements to erase poverty.

As negotiations continues for a last minute Brexot deal, the clock is ticking towards October 31st.

On Thursday EU28 leaders meet for the last Council before the United Kingdom is scheduled to leave the European Union.

Is there time for a deal? Yes, there is still time but it is getting close.

Sky News writes that Sunday saw the first official indications of how the intensified talks between UK and EU negotiators have progressed over the weekend.

Boris Johnson briefed his cabinet in a conference call, while the EU’s chief negotiator Michele Barnier spoke to European ambassadors.

Both sides appear to have given very similar accounts of where things are – in short, that while talks have not yet broken down, there is yet to be a breakthrough.

The prime minister said there was a “pathway” to a deal ahead of the EU leaders’ summit in Brussels on Thursday, but that there was still a “significant amount of work to do”.

A statement from the EU Commission echoed that appraisal, saying “A lot of work remains to be done.”

While Mr Johnson’s briefing to his ministers has not, so far, resulted in leaks about the details of the negotiations, EU diplomatic sources have suggested the dispute over customs arrangements in Northern Ireland remains the major hurdle.

As MPs return to Westminster for the Queen’s Speech, they will be watching developments in Brussels closely as they prepare for what could be a tumultuous and highly unpredictable week.

Source: Sky News

We are waiting for the masterpiece. Every report is saying that tHe best film director alive, Martin Scoreses, is back in his own garden and delivering his lifetime performance. He has a cast of De Niro, Pacino, and Pesci helping him. It is time for The Irishman.

The film is based on the excellent book, I Heard You Paint Houses by Charles Brandt where a mob hitman recalls his possible involvement in the death of Jimmy Hoffa.

The film is released in theatres on November 1st and Netflix on November 27th.