Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored his first goal on his first start back for AC Milan to give the team a 2-0 lead against Cagliari on Saturday afternoon.

The Swedish striker returned to Italy after leaving LA Galaxy at the end of the MLS season.

Against Sampdoria last Monday he came off the bench but couldn’t impact the game as the Rossoneri drew 0-0.

6th May 2012: Zlatan Ibrahimovic scores his last goals for AC Milan. A brace against Inter Milan.

11th January 2020: Zlatan Ibrahimovic starts and scores for AC Milan once again.

The king of Milan is back.

Sweden has been named the country with the best reputation in the world for the second year in a row. That’s what Forbes writes.

It is the Reputation Institute that carries out the report of countries in the world with the best reputation. The study is called Country RepTrak and is based on interviews conducted in March and April with 58,000 people from the G8 countries: France, Italy, Japan, Canada, Russia, the UK, Germany and the USA.

Sweden is followed by Switzerland, Norway and Finland on the list.

Factors such as ethics and low corruption affect a country’s reputation. The study shows that Sweden is particularly distinguished when it comes to efficient state conditions, good living conditions and economic stability. In addition, the Swedes are perceived as nice and welcoming and Sweden is considered a safe country to live in. “It is no wonder that Sweden is ranked number 1, because the country has done an incredible job of telling itself about it,” says Stephen Hahn- Griffiths at the Reputation Institute.

“That Sweden is regarded as the country in the world with the best reputation is of course a tremendous asset,” says Madeleine Sjöstedt, Director General of the Swedish Institute. “The more positive associations others have of Sweden, the better conditions for trade, international cooperation, investment, and attraction of international students and tourism. This, in turn, is a prerequisite for Sweden to remain competitive in the future.”

Here are the top 10 countries with the best reputation in the world:

1. Sweden

2. Switzerland

3. Norway

4. Finland

5. New Zealand

6. Canada

7. Denmark

8. Australia

9. The Netherlands

10. Ireland

Source: Forbes

Brexit is on the way. PM Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal one step closer as it clears House of Commons hurdle with a majority of 99 votes. A historic day.

It is 1294 days since the Brexit referendum took place. Today Brexit moved forward. Now it is for real.

The Commons voted 330 to 231 in favour of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill and it will now pass to the House of Lords for further scrutiny next week.

If peers choose to amend it will it come back before MPs.

The bill covers “divorce” payments to the EU, citizens’ rights, customs arrangements for Northern Ireland and the planned 11-month transition period.

The UK is due to leave the EU on 31 January.

The bill comfortably cleared its third reading in the House of Commons, as expected, with a majority of 99. All 330 votes in favour were Conservative.

It took just three days for the bill to pass the remaining stages in the Commons, after MPs gave their initial approval to the legislation before the Christmas recess.

The latest vote gives approval to the 11-month transition period after 31 January, in which the UK will cease to be an EU member but will continue to follow its rules and contribute to its budget.

The purpose of the transition period is to give time for the UK and EU to negotiate their future relationship, including a trade deal.

Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay has said the bill will deliver on the “overwhelming mandate” his party was given at the general election to take the UK out of the EU on 31 January.

He has also said he is “confident” the UK will be able to negotiate a trade deal with the EU by the end of the year, despite critics saying that the deadline is too tight.

PM Johnson has also insisted a deal is possible by December 2020 and has said the transition period will not be extended.

He has said the UK is ready to start negotiations “as soon as possible” after 31 January.

Sources: BBC, SkyNews

UK PM Boris Johnson’s Brexit legislation is poised to clear its House of Commons hurdles today after months of knife-edge votes and parliamentary turmoil.

Armed with an 80-strong majority, Mr Johnson decided to fast-track the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) through its remaining stages in the Commons in just three days, where it has faced little substantial opposition.

The bill also enshrines in law the prime minister’s pledge against extending the transition period beyond December 2020. This new deadline increases the risk of a no-deal Brexit, as it leaves the prime minister only 11 months to negotiate a trade deal with Brussels.

Source: TheTelegraph

World Customs Organizstion has announced that the International Customs Day (ICD) on 26 January 2020 this year will be dedicated to the contribution of Customs towards a sustainable future where social, economic, health and environmental needs are at the heart of our actions, with the slogan “Customs fostering Sustainability for People, Prosperity and the Planet”.

WCO Members will have the opportunity to showcase their efforts and activities in this domain.

This week the United Kingdom and the European Union are meeting in London to re-start the talks and the negotiations about post-Brexit future relations. The UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is meeting Ursula von der Leyen in Downing Street in their first face-to-face talks since she succeeded Jean-Claude Juncker. The EU main negotiator Michel Barnier is also in London for these talks, for the first time taking place in the United Kingdom – a significant and symbolic change of what we have in front of us. 

According to media PM Johnson will tell the new Commission chief the UK wants a speedy post-Brexit trade deal with the EU, free from rules imposed by Brussels. The talks coincide with the government’s Brexit legislation, the EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill, continuing its swift passage through the Commons this week. 

As you know, on January 31st the United Kingdom will leave the European Union. What does that mean for UK and EU traders? I and my colleagues in KGH are getting a lot of questions, calls and e-mails asking what actually happens at the end of this month. In summary, our answer is, for trade and industry this means no changes on that date. 

On February 1st a transition period of eleven months starts. During this transition period of time nothing changes for the business doing trade between UK and EU until the end of December 2020, it is business as usual from a practical and operational perspective.  

This does however not mean that traders can just continue as if nothing has happened. Now it is time to do all the preparations necessary to handle the end of the transition period, after all, there are only 335 days to so.   

During the transition period, the UK and the EU will agree on future relations. The two parties will negotiate a free trade agreement (FTA), which will regulate if there will be tariffs or not a range of other areas important for everybody moving goods between the two customs unions and territories. In addition, the non-tariff barriers, the customs and border procedures will be discussed and agreed, as well as how the Northern Ireland protocol of the Withdrawal Agreement should be implemented and any changes necessary depending on how the FTA negotiations proceed.    

The transition period can according to the Withdrawal Agreement be prolonged if both parties agree to do so, the first evaluation, if this is necessary, will take place in June this year. It is likely that the EU would favour an extension of the transition period, while it is crystal clear that the Prime Minister and UK Government have already said that this will not happen. On December 31st 2020 the transition period ends. This also means that of no agreements as mentioned above are done, this could be the date of a similar “no-deal” situation as have been discussed before – with the difference that preparations in that case naturally have come further into place. 

All of this is a clear indication that it is now time for all companies involved in trade between EU and UK, in both directions, to do the necessary preparations to be ready for the 1 January 2021.

All companies should (as soon as possible) as a minimum:

• Do a UK-EU trade analysis or update previously done analysis to identify necessary activities;

• Contact all partner stakeholders involved in the used supply chain – and integrated value chains – to check om their preparations; 

• Do a review of all contracts; 

• Do a review on compliance issues and classification of products;

• Develop a plan for logistics and a contingency plan for any potential disturbance;

• Secure Customs competence and capacity; and 

• Establish a mechanism for an update of the above during 2020.    

Another thing to do is to sign up for the UK Customs Academy. This is the first-ever digital Customs Academy with on-line Customs education for Level 2 up to Level 7. A professional pathway for everybody working with UK trade – but also for people involved in international trade in general. 

The best news is that the UK Government is financially supporting the education on the UK Customs Academy making the level 2 to level 5 training courses available for free through a generous grant scheme.         

Finally, I agree with most of my peers and other experts heavily involved in this Brexit process that: 

1. UK Government will accept a transition period to go beyond 31 December 31st 2020

2. There will be some kind of agreement/agreements in place for the end of the transition period

3. The administrative border procedures (non-tariff barriers) starts on January 1st 2021 (with or without tariffs depending on the FTA negotiations)

4. If there are no agreements, the UK will use GATT XXIV to ‘postpone’ tariffs until the final deal is agreed

The clock is ticking, tick-tock. Don’t wait. It is time for action.

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