Free Trade Negotiations Report: Government announce they are one-step closer to a wide-ranging-free-trade-agreement with New Zealand that can provide better jobs, higher wages and more affordable prices and both sides highlighted that it was essential post-Covid-19 for economic recovery #AceFinanceDesk report

We are now one step closer to an ambitious, wide-ranging free trade agreement with one of our oldest friends. An FTA with New Zealand can bring investment, better jobs, higher wages and more affordable prices just when we need them the most: Both teams of negotiators recognised the unprecedented circumstances we find ourselves in and reiterated that more global trade is essential to support post-Covid economic recovery: Negotiations were conducted virtually and covered a comprehensive set of discussions across areas of a trade agreement:

The discussions covered:

  • Anti-Corruption
  • Clean Growth
  • Competition
  • Cross-cutting general provisions
  • Customs
  • Digital trade
  • Domestic Regional Economic Development
  • Environment
  • Financial Services
  • Trade in Goods and Trade Remedies
  • Good Regulatory Practice
  • Indigenous Trade
  • Intellectual Property
  • Investment
  • Labour
  • Procurement
  • Rules of Origin
  • Services, including Mobility
  • Small and Medium-sized Enterprises
  • State Owned Enterprises
  • Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures
  • State to State Dispute Settlement
  • Technical Barriers to Trade
  • Telecommunications
  • Trade and Development
  • Trade and Women’s Economic Empowerment
  • Transparency

Discussions between negotiators were productive and reflected our shared ambition to secure a comprehensive deal to boost trade and investment between our like-minded economies: Teams discussed their respective objectives and agreed a forward plan for future talks. Our positive discussions in round one have laid the groundwork for the UK and New Zealand to achieve high-quality outcomes across the agreement.

The UK and New Zealand are aligned in many areas which will enable us to make quick progress across many chapters: In discussions, both countries emphasised a desire to be particularly ambitious in areas including enhancing digital trade, boosting cross-border trade in services and investment, reducing uncertainty and burdens on exporters from customs procedures, and promoting good regulatory practices. Discussions also provided an opportunity for both teams to consider how we can work together across the agreement to support important agendas such as women’s economic empowerment, trade and development, indigenous trade, clean growth and climate action, and ensuring Small and Medium sized Enterprises can benefit from the FTA.

The Government is committed to negotiating a comprehensive agreement with New Zealand and we look forward to making further progress: The Government will make its next statement on progress following the second round of talks, which is currently planned to take place in October. We will explore the option of face-to-face negotiations when it is safe to do so.

#AceFinanceDesk report ………….Published: July.29: 2020:

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Press Release Transition Report: From today (29 July 2020), customs intermediaries can apply for £50 mi llion of new funding, first announced in June 2020, to increase their capacity to make declarations ahead of 2021 #AceFinanceDesk report

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), which is running the scheme, is encouraging customs intermediaries and traders who make their own declarations to take advantage of the funding now: After the transition period ends, intermediaries, such as brokers, freight forwarders and express parcel operators, will play a critical role for businesses, and the government wants to create conditions for a diverse market:

Applications open for £50 million funding to boost UK customs intermediaries

HMRC is encouraging customs intermediaries and traders who make their own declarations to take advantage of the funding now.

HM Revenue & Customs

HMRC had already made up to £34 million available to bolster the intermediary sector, which was used very quickly: In total, the government has now made available £84 million to grow the customs intermediary sector to encompass EU trade after 2020. At the moment, agents cover non-EU trade though many, like parcel companies, do operate in the EU market: As well as injecting £50 million to support businesses with recruitment, training and supplying IT equipment to handle customs declarations, the government also intends to change rules which will remove the financial liability from intermediaries operating on behalf of their clients, plus allow parcel operators to continue declaring multiple consignments in a single customs declaration.

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove, said:

After the UK transition period with the EU ends on December 31, intermediaries will play a vital role in helping UK businesses trade and seize new opportunities around the world. This funding and support will increase capacity as we get ready for the UK’s new start next year.

Applying for this funding is simple and I urge the intermediary sector and businesses to take advantage of the help on offer now.

Liam Smyth, Director of Chamber Customs at the British Chambers of Commerce, commented:

The Customs Intermediary Grant Scheme has been a real enabler for businesses. It’s enabled firms to hire more people, to upskill their employees and to drive efficiency through upgraded IT.

We have helped almost 2,000 businesses across the UK to upskill their staff through our training courses and we have benefitted directly by taking on more people and equipping them to be ready for the end of the Transition period.

Firms need many more customs agents to be ready, this fund can help to make that happen.

HMRC will continue to monitor the preparation of the customs intermediary sector closely:

For full details of criteria and how to apply please read the guidance on GOV.UK.

Further information

The customs grant scheme was launched in November 2018 to support the intermediary market to expand: To date, HMRC has made a total investment of £34 million available to support the sector, which has supported more than 20,000 training courses, nearly 15,000 units of IT and the recruitment of over 600 new customs agents.

The grant scheme is being run by HMRC and administered by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) on its behalf.

#AceFinanceDesk report ………….Published: July.29: 2020:

Editor says #AceNewsDesk reports are provided at and all our posts, links can be found at here Live Feeds and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

Economic Insight: The UK’s economy has begun to recover as lockdown measures are eased but the quest ion still remains on ‘ How Much Long-Term Damage ‘ has been done or wether the people will r eturn to spending on the ‘ High Street ‘ or many will continue online as they have fo r the last three months #AceFinanceDesk report

It’s still not clear how fast this recovery will be, and how much long-term damage has been done: This Insight looks at the latest data for signs of increased economic activity alongside falling wages and Government plans for future public spending:

Economic update: Is the UK beginning to bounce back?

Published Tuesday, July 28, 2020:

Economic activity is rising

According to Office for National Statistics (ONS) monthly estimates, GDP rose by 1.8% in May, following unprecedented falls in previous months. While there is some way to go to make up the losses (figures for March to May combined are still 19.1% lower than the previous quarter), it does seem likely that we are now climbing out of the recession.

A chart showing that GDP has been mostly flat until March 2020, when it fell significantly and has since started to increase.

There were also signs of recovery in retail sales figures, which rebounded in June to reach levels similar to before the lockdown. However, this recovery has not been evenly shared across the sector: sales in non-food stores are still well below their pre-pandemic levels.

Activity in both the manufacturing and services sectors appeared to be strengthening too. The Purchasing Manager’s Index measures for both are increasing from their previous lows.

Falling wages and higher unemployment

The unemployment figures for March to May this year have yet to show any significant changes, although this will be at least partly due to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for furloughed workers.

However, we can see the pandemic’s effect on wages. Earnings fell by 0.3% in March to May 2020 compared to the previous year. They were rising by around 3% per year before the pandemic. This is likely due to many employees receiving lower wages while furloughed. As the chart below shows, low-paid industries (which have a high proportion of furloughed employees) have seen large decreases in average earnings.

A chart showing that average earnings in the lowest-paid industries are now below where they were a year ago, unlike most other industries.

The Job Retention Scheme is set to end on 31 October. As we mentioned in Coronavirus: Impact on the labour market, this scheme is very likely preventing large numbers of job losses for now. But the large increase in people claiming unemployment benefits, and decreases in paid employees and vacancies, means that higher unemployment and more redundancies are on the way.

High borrowing and (possibly) lower future spending

The high costs of the measures the Government has taken to slow the pandemic have caused a large increase in public sector borrowing. As shown in the chart below, from June 2019 to June 2020, the Government borrowed nearly £160 billion. This is more than it had borrowed in the previous three years put together.

According to the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), the government’s borrowing (or deficit) could be as high as £370 billion this year (around 19% of GDP). This is the OBR’s ‘central scenario’ – if the economy rebounds faster or slower the deficit could be anywhere between 15% and 23% of GDP.

A chart showing that public sector borrowing in the last 12 months is higher than in the previous three years put together.

This shift in the public finances has also led to changes in the Chancellor’s approach to the Comprehensive Spending Review. This was re-launched on 21 July having been postponed due to the pandemic. The review will set budgets for government departments for the next three years. These budgets are likely to be less generous than had originally been planned.

The Government said that departments have been asked to “identify opportunities to reprioritise and deliver savings.” It added: “in the interest of fairness we must exercise restraint in future public sector pay awards.” MPs, interest groups and members of the public are now able to submit policy ideas as part of the review.

About the author: Philip Brien is a researcher at the House of Commons Library, specialising in public spending.

#AceFinanceDesk report ………..Published: July.29: 2020:

Editor says #AceNewsDesk reports by and all our posts, also links can be found at here for Twitter and Live Feeds and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com