(TEHRAN, Iran.) Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi started his two-day Iran visit on Friday, the third leg of his six-state Middle East tour, following intensive diplomatic meetings with US senior diplomats in Alaska and with his Russian counterpart in South China’s Guilin within a week #AceFinanceDesk report

Sino-Iranian $400 bln agreement, a major strategic shift: March 31, The Iran Project – Top diplomats from Iran and China have signed a 25-year comprehensive strategic partnership agreement, which is a roadmap for cooperation between the two US-sanctioned countries, in a ceremony on Saturday, March 27, 2021. The pact which focuses on the capacities and perspectives in various areas was considered by many as a strategic tilt that formed a new alliance.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi started his two-day Iran visit on Friday, the third leg of his six-state Middle East tour, following intensive diplomatic meetings with US senior diplomats in Alaska and with his Russian counterpart in South China’s Guilin within a week.

Ahead of the signing ceremony, the Chinese diplomat held talks with President Hassan Rouhani and Ali Larijani, the Iranian Leader’s point man on China.

During a meeting with Larijani, Wang said that China’s relations with Iran will be “permanent and strategic” and will not be affected by the current situation. Iran decides independently on its relations with other countries and is not like some countries that change their position with one phone call.

Also, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh describedthe $400 billion deal as a “deep, multilayered and fully-fledged” pact to deepen trade, economic, and transport cooperation that would be “very effective in deepening” relations with China.

Overview of of the Agreement

In 2016, the Sino-Iranian Comprehensive Strategic Partnership was agreed in Tehran by President Hassan Rouhani and his visiting Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, a champion of the Belt and Road initiative, a multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure scheme intended to stretch from East Asia to Europe, to expand continental infrastructures including rail and ports. The goal set by China was to boost trade with Iran tenfold to $600 billion within a decade.

Currently, Iran and China do about $20 billion (€16.9 billion) in trade annually. That’s down from $52 billion in 2014 before global oil prices declined and sanctions were reimposed on Iran in 2018 by former US President Donald Trump.

The cooperation roadmap consists of 20 articles, covering Tehran-Beijing ties in “Political,” “Executive Cooperation,” “Human and Cultural,” “Judiciary, Security and Defense,” and “Regional and International” domains, according to the statement released by Iranian Foreign Ministry.

Iran’s MFA spokesman stated that the document is a “roadmap” for trade, economic, and transportation cooperation, with a “special focus on the private sectors of the two sides.”

A strategic Shift by Formation of a New Alliance

Tehran and Washington are at loggerheads over the fate of the 2015 landmark nuclear deal Iran reached with six world powers, from which the US exited in May 2018 and slapped harsh economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic under a so-called maximum pressure policy.

In a meantime, the US relations with China grew increasingly tense under the administration of Donald Trump. Washington continually clashed with Beijing over trade, the South China Sea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, as well as the coronavirus pandemic.

Now, the Iran-China agreement inserts a new strategic pincer in the trouble-hit region of the Middle East for Washington and its allies.

China’s 25-year agreement with Iran underlies a shift in its Middle East strategy as relations with the United States deteriorate, the Chinese former ambassador to Tehran said.

Iran, China, and Russia have strained relations with Washington after Biden’s new administration vowed to remain firm in its dealings, despite a renewed emphasis on diplomacy.

Deeper and wider cooperation between China and Iran, especially when considered in the context of their close ties with Russia and the trio’s adversarial relations with the US, carries a strong message for changing the regional strategic equations.

Beijing’s inking of the deal with Tehran has raised great concerns in Persian Gulf Arab states, Israel, and on top of all, the US in a region that has been a strategic preoccupation of the Americans for decades.

However, this partnership is not to an extent that could endanger China’s relations with Iran’s regional archrival Saudi Arabia and its Arab.  China largely imported oil needs from KSA and Iraq, as well as smaller amounts from Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman.

China also enjoys military and intelligence cooperation with another main regional adversary of Iran i.e. Israel.

Moreover, Tehran’s growing influence across the Levant (Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon) and Yemen along with its support for the Palestinian cause against Israeli occupation have already troubled these countries.

Iranian leverage in Afghanistan, where American and its allies stuck in for two decades without much success, is another source of concern for Washington.

The Iran-China accord when combined with Terran’s close ties with Russia signals a formation of the strong axis that may lead to boost the Islamic Republic’s regional position and bargaining power in any negotiations with the United States regarding the JCPOA.

America’s constant attempts to pressure and isolate Tehran, especially under former President Trump, has steadily driven Tehran to look to the East and to reach the point of concluding the agreement with Beijing.

#AceFinanceDesk report …….Published: Apr.02: 2021:

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#agreement, #iran, #sino-iranian, #tehran

(LONDON) GOVUK Press Release Statement Report: Climate Change The contract is backed by the UK Gov. and awarded as part of the European Space Agency’s TRUTHS satellite mission, which will rapidly improve our a bility to track and monitor climate change from Earth Observation data #AceFinanceDesk report

#AceFinanceReport – Nov.03: Airbus has been awarded a contract to prepare a mission to collect the most accurate measurements of energy coming into the Earth from the Sun, and light reflected off Earth’s surface, to help understand changes in balance (global warming) and mankind’s impact on the planet: The mission will not only make measurements itself, but also improve the performance of other missions through calibration from space, becoming a new ‘gold standard’ reference for climate measurements:

Climate change space project awarded to Airbus UK

Airbus has been awarded a new landmark climate change space contract

UK Space Agency

The contract is backed by the UK Government and awarded as part of the European Space Agency’s TRUTHS satellite mission, which will rapidly improve our ability to track and monitor climate change from Earth Observation data: It will allow climate scientists to better compare and calibrate data from other satellites while making the reasons for climate change action more certain and enabling progress from those actions to be seen in the shortest possible time:

Earth observation satellites collect hundreds of terabytes of data per day, delivering vital intelligence about how fast glaciers flow, the size of forest fires in the Amazon, and the quality of the air that we breathe: Measurements from these satellites will arm policy makers, governments and industry with the best quality data and knowledge needed to track and better understand the impacts of climate change: The TRUTHS mission was originally conceived in the UK by Professor Nigel Fox of the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) – a world leading centre for measurement science – to act as the first ever ‘climate and calibration laboratory in space’.

Richard Franklin, Managing Director of Airbus Defence and Space in the UK said:

Validating data on Earth’s changing climate is at the heart of this exciting mission, which will have a profound impact on future studies. It will provide the gold standard of calibration for space-based Earth observation – a kind of ‘standards laboratory in space’.

For the first time the international scientific community will be able to cross-reference their measurements and data, enabling much more accurate forecasts and analysis, from both large institutional and small commercial missions.

The TRUTHS mission will build on the UK’s status as a world-leader in tackling climate change, with Airbus now set to lead the industrial charge in helping provide this novel mission:

Many other UK companies will be part of the programme, UK science and expertise will guide its requirements and the resultant data has the potential to help revolutionise our understanding of the planet.

UK Science Minister Amanda Solloway, said:

We have to use every tool at our disposal to help understand and tackle major issues such as climate change, whether that’s locating harmful carbon emissions or tracking the effects of deforestation.

This ambitious mission to create a ‘climate laboratory’ in space – the first of its kind – will help increase the accuracy of future climate projections by arming our leading scientists with the most reliable data and insight we have ever had access to – helping us take action to tackle this here in the UK, and around the world.

TRUTHS will carry a Cryogenic Solar Absolute Radiometer (CSAR) to provide a primary calibration standard in order to benchmark measurements of both incoming solar radiation and outgoing reflected radiation with unprecedented accuracy: The TRUTHS study and pre-developments marks a determined approach by the UK to propose and lead missions within the European Space Agency that meet UK objectives and will include key partners from the UK space industry including Teledyne e2v UK, NPL, RAL, University of Leicester, Thales Alenia Space UK, CGI IT UK, Telespazio-UK and Goonhilly Satellite Earth Station as well as important contributions from companies and institutes from the participating nations: The Czech Republic, Greece, Romania and Switzerland. The overall contract is worth approximately €16 million.

The UK has embarked on a strategy to take a leadership role and build national capacity in this domain ranging from the strong climate science expertise and the innovation and expertise in developing new satellite instrument concepts, through to the build of operational missions which provides data for science, government and the space-enabled service companies who are building commercial climate services on trusted data: By working with the engineering experts in ESA and by collaborating with our colleagues in other countries the UK Space Agency not only aims for a new mission but one that through building and operation offer an opportunity to inspire the next generation to be involved in an exciting and stimulating career of climate and Earth Observation:

#AceFinanceDesk report ………………….Published: Nov.03: 2020:

MOD Contract Report: Army’s construction vehicles boosted by £240 million maintenance contract for mili tary’s fleet of bulldozers, cranes and forklifts #AceFinanceDesk report

#AceFinanceReport – Aug.28: The fleet – known as MITER – is a valuable asset in peace time activities and operations around the world: In recent years the equipment has been used to help with recovery following the devastation caused by Hurricanes Irma and Dorian in the Caribbean, during major flooding incidents in the UK and supporting the military response to #COVID19 by loading and off-loading vital medical supplies from distribution centres:

Army’s construction vehicles boosted by £240 million contract

The military’s fleet of bulldozers, cranes and forklifts will soon be refreshed thanks to a £240 million maintenance contract.

Ministry of Defence

Now a new seven-year contract has been awarded to AmeyBriggs to maintain, manage and support the MOD’s fleet of construction and mechanical vehicles: Vehicles in the MITER fleet include excavators, bulldozers, cranes and forklift trucks and meet the MOD’s need for earth-moving, engineer construction and mechanical handling capabilities: Offering MOD £136 million in savings over the next 10 years, the contract will also sustain jobs across the UK.

Defence Minister Jeremy Quin said:

Our Armed Forces deserve the best equipment for their vital operations, both in the UK and right across the world. From humanitarian support to keeping our country safe, construction and mechanical vehicles are a key asset for defence.

This contract is the result of excellent industry collaboration, and I am pleased that we are continuing to support jobs across the country.

The contract was negotiated by Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S), the procurement arm of the MOD. MITER sees three existing contracts – Defence Mechanical Handling Equipment, Protected Engineering Equipment and C-Vehicle capability – brought under one umbrella contract: This is part of defence’s “Whole Force” approach, which puts equipment, personnel for military tasks, new information systems and infrastructure support under one arrangement.

Simon Herrington, who led the DE&S team securing the contract, said:

This has been a culmination of five years hard work with a small dedicated project team assisted with subject matter experts and a very good working relationship with the Army as lead customer.

This hard work and collaborative working has resulted in the project being able to declare a £136M efficiency for DE&S and the Army, a really great achievement.

AmeyBriggs is a new joint venture between infrastructure support service provider Amey plc and Briggs Defence, a specialist division of asset management and engineering services provider Briggs Equipment: Under MITER, AmeyBriggs will not only manage and maintain this key equipment, but also provide support for military personnel to ensure safe and effective use.

Major General Simon Hamilton CBE, Army Director Support said:

I’m particularly enthusiastic about Project MITER. We have taken three previous overlapping mechanisms for provision of Mechanical Handling Equipment, Construction and Protected Plant and melded them into one to achieve efficiencies.

Moreover, we have designed-in contractual innovation and flexibility by integrating a fleet of military, leased and hired equipment; this means we only pay for what we need when we need it, but can scale-up quickly as necessary; we will also benefit from emerging technologies as they develop. Importantly, MITER embraces a Whole Force Approach, presenting opportunities for enhancing the skills of both regular and reserve personnel.

To manage the contract, around 180 staff and supply chain partners will be transferred into AmeyBriggs from the current support teams which brings together a wealth of knowledge, skills and experience:

Chris Bushell, Director General (Land) at DE&S said:

The successful contract award for MITER is an excellent example of DE&S and industry working closely together to deliver an innovative solution. This will provide the Armed Forces with a key capability, to deliver operational effect all over the world, on time and at a price that represents great value for money.

#AceNewsDesk report ……………Published: Aug.28: 2020:

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Press Release Statement Report: Michael Gove & Brandon Lewis, announce a major £650-million package of investment for Northern Ireland offering new-free-to-use Trader Support, technology package and peace plus p rogramme funding #AceFinanceDesk report

#AceFinanceReport – Aug.07: On a visit to Northern Ireland today (Friday 7 August), Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove, and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis, will announce a major £650m package of investment to help traders in Northern Ireland, and support peace, prosperity and reconciliation projects on the island of Ireland:

Major £650 million investment for Northern Ireland

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove, and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis, announce a major £650m package of investment

Cabinet Office

  • A new free-to-use Trader Support Service backed by funding of up to £200 million will complete digital processes on behalf of businesses importing goods into Northern Ireland.
  • £155m to fund the development of new technology to ensure the new processes can be fully digital and streamlined.
  • £300 million confirmed funding for the PEACE Plus programme will help to support peace, prosperity and reconciliation projects on the island of Ireland.

At the centre of this package is a new, free-to-use Trader Support Service (TSS) – an end-to-end support service to deal with import and safety and security declarations on behalf of traders: The new service will be available to businesses bringing in goods from Great Britain or the rest of the world, providing guidance as well as dealing with their requirements for moving goods into Northern Ireland.

A procurement exercise for the service has now been launched: We have committed £50m of funding for the establishment and first phase of the service, with the full contract to be worth up to £200- million: Businesses in Northern Ireland can sign up for further information about the scheme on GOV.UK from today, before it becomes operational in September.

The service is outlined as part of the publication of new guidance on the Northern Ireland Protocol for businesses moving goods into and from Northern Ireland: The new online pages have been added to gov.uk/transition and will be updated as implementation work and UK-EU discussions proceed as part of the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee. This provides further clarity to businesses following the publication of the Government’s Command Paper in May, with additional details to be outlined as work proceeds in the coming months to support preparations for the end of the transition period.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and the Secretary of State also confirmed £300m of funding to the PEACE Plus programme to support peace and reconciliation across the island of Ireland.

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

Today’s £650 million investment underlines our absolute commitment to the people and businesses of Northern Ireland as we move towards the end of the transition period.

Our new free-to-use Trader Support Service will provide vital support and guidance to traders, while our £300 million investment in reconciliation projects will help to preserve the huge gains from the peace process and the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement.

As part of our ongoing engagement with Northern Ireland businesses and the Executive, we are also publishing further guidance for businesses on the operation of the Protocol.

As we continue to engage with businesses and our discussions with the EU proceed, we will update these resources to ensure that traders are ready for the end of the transition period.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis, said:

Businesses have always been at the heart of our preparations for the end of the transition period. This new Trader Support Service backed by funding of up to £200m reinforces this approach – it is a unique service that will ensure that businesses of all sizes can have import processes dealt with on their behalf, at no cost.

We recognise the importance of clarity and certainty for businesses which is why, as our discussions with the EU continue, the Business Engagement Forum will remain a vital forum to bring together the UK Government and the NI Executive with businesses across NI and their representatives to make sure they have the information they need to support their preparations.

We also recognise that the Protocol is about more than maintaining the critical economic links that exist across our United Kingdom, so I am proud that we have committed to provide £300 million to the PEACE Plus programme, which does such important work across the island of Ireland to promote peace and reconciliation.

#AceFinanceDesk report ……………Published: Aug.07: 2020:

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Press Statement Report: Thousands of smaller businesses in England are set to benefit from £20 million of new government funding to help them recover from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the Minister fo r Regional Growth and Local Government has today (30 July 2020) announced #AceFinanceDesk report

#AceFinanceReport – July.30: and medium sized businesses will have access to grants of between £1,000 – £5,000 to help them access new technology and other equipment as well as professional, legal, financial or other advice to help them get back on track: It comes on top of an unprecedented package of Government support to help businesses to recover, including the £2 billion Kickstart Scheme which will create hundreds of thousands of new, fully subsidised jobs for young people across the country, as well as £1.6 billion invested in scaling up employment support schemes, training and apprenticeships to help people looking for a job:

£20 million in new grants to boost recovery of small businesses

£20 million new funding to help smaller businesses recover from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government

Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government, Simon Clarke MP said:

We have always said that we would stand behind our businesses and communities as we rebuild following the coronavirus pandemic. This new funding does exactly that.

Businesses will be able to use these new grants to pay for the expertise, equipment and technology they need to adapt, recover and rebuild.

Small and medium sized businesses are the beating heart of communities; they provide employment and contribute significantly to local economies and we are determined to give them the support they need to continue to thrive.

Today’s announcement builds on a £10 million package announced by the Minister earlier this month to help to kickstart the tourism industry and support the visitor economy: The support will be fully funded by the government from the England European Regional Development Fund and distributed through Growth Hubs, embedded in local areas across England.

Further information

  • The support will be fully funded by the Government with no obligation for businesses to contribute financially.
  • The funding being provided to businesses is supported by the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for the European Regional Development Fund in England. For more information visit (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/england-2014-to-2020-european-structural-and-investment-funds)
  • The funding has been allocated to Growth Hubs within each LEP area in line with the current ERDF Programme.

View Growth Hub funding: allocations for each LEP area (PDF, 202KB, 4 pages)

  • To establish a viable grant programme, we have set a minimum of £250,000 for all LEP areas. The allocation of resources will be reviewed as the grant fund is delivered.
  • Growth Hubs work across the country with local and national, public and private sector partners – such as Chambers of Commerce, FSB, universities, Enterprise Zones and banks, co-ordinating local business support and connecting businesses to the right help for their needs. They are locally driven, locally owned and at the heart of the government’s plan to ensure business support is simpler, more joined up and easier to access.
  • Activities supported through the £20 million can include:
    • One-to-many events providing guidance to respond to coronavirus,
    • Grants (£1,000 – £5,000) to help businesses access specialist professional advice such as HR, accountants, legal, financial, IT and digital, and to purchase minor equipment to adapt or adopt new technology in order to continue to deliver business activity or diversify.

      #AceFinanceDesk report ………….Published: July.30: 2020:

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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:

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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:

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Digital Innovation Funding Awards: Councils are to received a share of £800,000 to build and develop so ftware tools for delivering public services during during this #pandemic following on the 11-projects that h ave already received funding #AceFinanceDesk report

#AceFinanceReport – July.27: Councils have responded to the #coronavirus #pandemic by rapidly introducing innovative new ways of serving their communities: This new funding will help ensure they continue to modernise and improve the way they deliver public services: Examples include £67,500 for Newcastle City Council to develop a tool which predicts whether parts of a city are overcrowded which will help understand whether social distancing can be followed: Projects will also build on recent rule changes allowing councils to focus on letting people have their say on major planning applications online: Another project will expand on community and council networks to speed up local support for vulnerable people:

Councils awarded £800,000 to build on digital advances made during pandemic

Communities across the country are set to benefit from better local services as councils receive a share of £800,000 for innovative digital projects.

Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government

Local Government Minister Simon Clarke MP said:

Councils have made huge efforts to support their residents at this testing time – by housing rough sleepers quickly, supporting vulnerable people and ensuring services such as bin collections continue.

They have had to adapt their services from in-person to online, using technology to do so and I am determined we capitalise on this and use everything we have learned to improve efficiency and make services better for residents and communities.

That’s why we’re giving them £800,000 to build on the rapid digital innovation of recent months so that local communities continue to feel the benefits of more efficient public services.

The announcement comes 2 years since the start of the Local Digital Declaration, a pledge signed by over 220 councils and public sector bodies committing to driving efficiency and improvements in services through digital technology: An important part of the pledge is to share their success with other councils, and to work collaboratively with them, so people living across the whole country can benefit.

Further information

Eleven projects have been awarded funding:

  • Camden Council will receive £80,000 to make it easier for local people and businesses to have their say online on things like major planning projects and town centre changes. This will build on changes to rules on 14 May to allow councils to publicise planning applications mainly on social media and other electronic means if they couldn’t do site notices, neighbour notifications or newspaper publicity. They will work with Middlesbrough Council.
  • South Gloucestershire Council and the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames will jointly receive £80,000 to build on increased online access to public meetings which has been improved quickly due to social distancing measures stopping people attending in person. This will also cover citizens’ assemblies and statutory consultations. They will work withWest Berkshire Council, Oxford City Council, Staffordshire County Council, Northamptonshire County Council, Cambridgeshire County Council, Waltham Forest Council, and Milton Keynes Council.
  • Leeds City Council will receive £79,500 to develop a guide for all councils to ensure that people who may struggle with digital technology, especially those who are vulnerable of socially isolated, get the help they need. This will make it easier for them to use services and help with loneliness and local support. They will work with Croydon Council and Eastbourne Council.
  • Greater Manchester Combined Authority will receive £80,000 to develop a predictive modelling system to understand and prepare for the possible knock-on effects of the coronavirus pandemic on vulnerable children.
  • Newcastle City Council will receive £67,500 to develop a tool for people to use to know which parts of a city may be overcrowded and therefore where it would be difficult to adhere to social distancing measures. Their work to understand data could be used to help councils predict overcrowding.
  • Central Bedfordshire Council will receive £80,000 to build on successful data sharing between councils and voluntary community services that has helped to give vulnerable people support during the pandemic. Both groups would have better information about who needs support in their area and would be able to share information quickly and securely to help more people. They will work with the Greater London Authority, and Camden Council.
  • A group of councils will receive £120,000 to build on successful work to help vulnerable residents during the pandemic. They will use the information that’s been most useful to improve and speed up how councils identify vulnerable people so they can predict and give the right support. This merger of proposals will be worked on by Huntingdonshire District Council, Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council, Greater Manchester Combined Authority, North Yorkshire County Council, Bolton Council, Sedgemoor District Council, and Somerset’s councils.
  • East Riding of Yorkshire Council will receive £76,000 to build on what they’ve learned about changes to how staff have worked during the coronavirus pandemic. Social distancing measures have meant dramatic changes to how we work, with large numbers mostly working at home for the first time and others changing when they work to keep the workplace safe. This will help to design future working patterns that maximise productivity, efficiency and wellbeing for council staff delivering public services. They will work with North East Lincolnshire Council, North Lincolnshire Council and Hull City Council.
  • Manchester City Council will receive £80,000 to learn from how council teams – across housing, social care, healthcare and more – have worked together to support residents including some of society’s most vulnerable people.
  • Bolton Council will receive £23,000 to help ensure people who aren’t used to accessing council services online, and would normally prefer face-to-face contact by visiting council offices, are not stopped from accessing services. They will look at remote and self-service ways such as considering the introduction of sealed pods for face-to-face conversations.
  • Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council will receive £34,000 to help them add extra functionality to a smartphone application they have developed that will help to prevent overcrowding on its beaches by telling people how busy sections are so they can do their bit to help ensure social distancing.
  • For more information, visit the Local Digital Collaboration Unit’s website: https://localdigital.gov.uk/c19-challenge/

#AceFinanceDesk report ………….Published: July.27: 2020:

Editor says #AceNewsDesk reports by https://t.me/acenewsdaily and all our posts, also links can be found at here for Twitter and Live Feeds https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/ 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

Law Commission Proposals: 27/07/2020: Consumers who have pre-paid for goods would be better protected if a retailer goes insolvent, as under the existing rules, if a company becomes insolvent, goods are held by administrators as assets belonging to the business under a law dating back to 1893 #AceFinanceDesk report

#AceFinanceReport – July.27: Under the existing rules, if a company becomes insolvent, goods paid for in advance that are still in its possession may be considered as assets belonging to the business: These goods can then be held by the company’s administrators and used to pay off the firm’s debts, potentially leaving consumers out of pocket: Consumer Affairs Minister Paul Scully has asked the Law Commission to consult on draft legislation to update the law that establishes when consumers legally own goods for which they have pre-paid: This is known as the transfer of ownership, and the law in this area has remained largely unchanged since 1893:

Law change to better protect consumers in event of insolvencies

Proposals will make it fairer for consumers and reduce the risk of them missing out if the company they have pre-paid for goods from becomes insolvent

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy

Consumer Affairs Minister, Paul Scully, said:

With more and more people prepaying for goods online, it is so important our laws are up to date to reduce the risk of customers losing out if a business unfortunately becomes insolvent.

This consultation will look at how the law can be brought into the 21st century, providing clarity for those managing insolvencies and better protection for consumers.

The law change would apply to scenarios where, for example, a person may have pre-paid for a pair of blinds tailored to fit their windows: If the company they have ordered from goes out of business before they have received the blinds, insolvency practitioners may label them as assets of the business, and use the proceeds to pay back creditors in the insolvency:

The proposals would also support those shopping online where goods are not immediately handed over at the point of sale, unlike when shopping in store: In 2020, around 20% of all retail sales take place online and require prepayment. The last few months have seen internet sales jump from 19.9% of all retail sales in January 2020 to 32.8% in May 2020.

The Law Commission recommends that, in that situation, legislation should include a list of events and circumstances which would be sufficient to transfer ownership to the consumer: For example, goods having been manufactured to the consumer’s own specifications, such as a sofa, or goods having been labelled with the consumer’s name.

Law Commissioner, Professor Sarah Green, said:

The current transfer of ownership rules are shrouded in complex language which consumers can find difficult to understand.

We believe it is time for the rules to be modernised so that consumers have clarity on their rights of ownership, especially in an insolvency situation.

The changes would build on the recent Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill, which made permanent additions to the UK insolvency regime, as well as containing a series of measures to amend insolvency and company law to support business to address the challenges resulting from the impact of coronavirus: The Bill received Royal Assent on 25 June 2020:

Rules & Regulations:

  • The rules governing transfer of ownership were developed for commercial contracts and codified in statute in 1893. Since then, they have been restated in the Sale of Goods Act 1979 but not changed in their substance. Additional provisions were introduced in 1995 for goods forming part of a bulk. Although these apply to all sales contracts, including with consumers, they were developed with commodity trading in mind.
  • The Law Commission has agreed to produce and consult on draft legislation to amend the Consumer Rights Act 2015, in order to create a non-exhaustive list of events that will be sufficient to identify goods as being linked to a contract and result in a transfer of ownership from the business to the consumer.
  • This work will implement recommendations from the Law Commission’s July 2016 report, Consumer Prepayments on Retailer Insolvency, which was commissioned by the government.
  • The Law Commission recommends that legislation should include the following non-exhaustive list of events and circumstances which would be sufficient to identify ownership by the consumer:
  1. the goods have been labelled with the consumer’s name in a way that is intended to be permanent;
  2. the goods have been set aside for the consumer in a way that is intended to be permanent;
  3. the goods have been altered to a specification agreed between the consumer and the retailer;
  4. the consumer is told that goods bearing a unique identifier will be used to fulfil the contract;
  5. manufacture of the goods is completed, if the goods are to be manufactured to a specification agreed between the consumer and the trader;
  6. the consumer examines the goods and agrees they are to be used to fulfil the contract;
  7. the goods are delivered to a courier for delivery to the consumer;
  8. the goods are delivered to the consumer; or
  9. the goods are identified in some other way by the retailer, and the retailer intends the identification to be permanent.
  • The changes will not benefit a consumer if the item they have purchased has not yet been made.

Case studies:

Citizens Advice has provided the Law Commission with evidence that consumers sometimes think their goods are ready for collection, only to be turned away when they go to collect them. In this example, the consumer bought furniture for around £2,400:

Because our flat was in a state [the trader] told us that they would store our furniture until we were ready for delivery…. Our flat is now nearly there, so I tried to call [the trader] last week, to arrange a date to have our furniture delivered, only to discover that they had gone into receivership. I am horrified. I paid my money in good faith trusting that I would get what I had paid for.

Alternatively, goods may be left for alteration:

We ordered some curtains, paid for them and had them shortened by the shop… We called in today to collect them and were told that the shop had gone into receivership as of 12 noon yesterday and that we couldn’t have the curtains as they were assets of the company and the assets were frozen. Surely if we have paid for them, they are no longer the company’s assets but they are our assets and we should have been able to pick them up?

#AceFinanceDesk report …..Published: July.27: 2020:

Editor says #AceNewsDesk reports are provided at https://t.me/acenewsdaily and all our posts, links can be found at here Live Feeds https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/ 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