Blog: UK minister says on Brexit trade deal: Time is running out – The Guardian

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain and the European Union are running out of time to clinch a Brexit trade deal but if good progress is made this week then the talks could be extended, Environment Secretary George Eustice said on Monday.

With just over four weeks left until the United Kingdom finally exits the EU’s orbit on Dec. 31, both sides are demanding concessions from the other on fishing, state aid and how to resolve any future disputes.

“We really are now running out of time, this is the crucial week, we need to get a breakthrough,” Eustice told Sky.

“I really do think we are now in to the final week or 10 days, of course if great progress were made this week and you’re nearly there it’s always possible to extend those negotiations,” he said.

Britain formally left the EU on Jan. 31 but has been in a transition period since then under which rules on trade, travel and business remain unchanged. From the start of 2021 it will be treated by Brussels as a third country.

Talks between EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier and British chief negotiator David Frost continued through Sunday. British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said it was a very significant week for Brexit.

“David Frost had made clear that we’re continuing the negotiations because we still think there is a prospect that we can get an agreement and while there is we should persevere with those,” Eustice said.

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge and Kate Holton; editing by James Davey)

Blog: UK vets grow wary as Brexit transition looms – The Pig Site

The report assesses the readiness of the UK and raises serious questions around veterinary capacity and infrastructure just weeks from the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December.

As the UK and EU continue to negotiate a trade deal, BVA is calling on the government to clarify the number of Official Veterinarians that will be needed to certify export health certificates (EHC) and to identify where in the country they will be needed. Whether a free trade deal is reached or not, EHCs will be required, but the detail has not yet been released creating difficulties for industry and the veterinary profession in preparing.

BVA has been raising concerns about veterinary capacity since the EU referendum, as around half of new vets registering in the UK each year are from the EEA. COVID-19 has placed additional pressure on veterinary capacity as fewer vets have come to work in the UK during 2020 and capacity within veterinary teams is being stretched with COVID-safe working practices.

The report cites concerns that veterinary surgeons will be taken away from statutory disease surveillance work (such as TB testing) in order to deliver essential export certification work in order to keep goods moving safely. BVA is calling on the government to guarantee that statutory disease work will not be impacted with the resulting negative impacts on animal health and welfare.

The report also raises questions about preparations for pet travel and equine movements. Final decisions on listing the UK for pet travel requirements have still not been made, leaving vets and pet owners confused about what will be required. The worst-case scenario means planning four months ahead of travel.

BVA has recently raised questions of the UK government on how veterinary diagnostic and research samples for CITES-listed species can be moved in a timely fashion between UK and EU diagnostic laboratories. To date, no solution has been reached.

BVA is also concerned that the threat of some exotic diseases is currently high – for example around avian influenza and African Swine Fever – potentially putting an additional strain on veterinary capacity.

Commenting, BVA President James Russell said:

“The veterinary profession is absolutely critical to the safe trading of animals and animal products whether the UK reaches a deal with the EU or not. With just weeks to go until the end of the transition period we are deeply concerned that we still don’t have clarity on exactly what will be required.

“We’re calling on the government to urgently send a strong signal to industry that it needs to recruit Official Veterinarians now to secure the necessary workforce.

“At a time when we need to be gearing up our capacity, our workforce is at full tilt under the shadow of COVID-19 restrictions and depleted by a reduction in registrations from overseas. This needs to be factored into plans.

“Our biggest concern is that as we look to 2021, we face the threat of a triple whammy of COVID-19, Brexit and exotic disease. Vets will always prioritise animal health and welfare and public health, but we need government to give us the information we need to do so.”

Blog: Christmas, coronavirus and fear of no-deal Brexit push Europe’s warehouses to the limit – Reuters

LISBON (Reuters) – Retailers worldwide have never had more reason to pack warehouses to the brim and keep stock closer to shoppers who continue to buy a record number of items online.

General view of Europa Worldwide Group’s warehouse in Corby, Britain in this November 2020 handout obtained by Reuters November 28, 2020. Europa Worldwide Group/Handout via REUTERS

As well as stocking up for Christmas and any potential coronavirus-related lockdowns, Europe and the UK will soon have Brexit to deal with.

British companies are bringing as much as possible into the country before potential disruptions in January, while their European counterparts are piling up goods in pan-European distribution hubs close to ports like Hamburg or Rotterdam.

E-commerce management platforms including ZigZag and Global-e– which serve Forever 21, Boohoo, Gap, Selfridges and Hugo Boss — said around 30-35% of UK retailers’ sales are to customers in continental Europe. Brands popular in the UK like Chinese e-commerce retailer Shein or American sportswear brand Under Armour are currently stocked exclusively in the EU, ZigZag CEO Al Gerrie said.

The rise in e-commerce throughout the year as a consequence of the pandemic had already pushed warehouse space to the limit.

“Most carriers already operated at Christmas volumes during the first wave. If you now add the Christmas effect on top, it’s just getting even more challenging,” CFO of European e-commerce retailer Zalando, David Schroeder, said in November.

Demand for storage space after Brexit could shoot up even further as retailers seek to avoid customs checks and, if no deal is struck, tariffs.

“Retailers won’t want to be caught out again,” said Nick Cook, head of Europe for warehouse owner GLP, referring to the potential supply shocks Brexit could bring. Their warehouses, covering 3.3 million square metres in continental Europe and 700,000 in the UK leased to companies including H&M, Amazon and DHL are currently 97% occupied.

STOCKING UP

In the UK, leasing volumes for commercial warehouse space are at record levels of 32.5 million square feet and projected to grow to 40 million by the end of the year, according to real estate advisory firm CBRE.

Logistics operator Europa Worldwide Group, which delivers goods for retailers and third parties like DHL and Amazon, is holding 60% more e-commerce products than this time last year, the company said.

Shoe producer Vivo Barefoot said it was shipping as many shoes as possible from its Portugal manufacturing site to its UK warehouse ahead of December.

M&S, Next, and Primark said earlier this year their warehouses were still holding unsold summer clothing.

Even after the pandemic, demand for warehouse space is expected to remain high as customers now used to ordering online continue to do so. E-commerce generally requires around three times as much warehouse capacity as physical retail, according to figures from Prologis.

SPREADING OUT

Warehouse developer Panattoni Chief Executive Robert Dobrzycki said pandemic border closures spurred retailers to separate stock by country instead of stocking for several countries in one shared warehouse space.

“We’re seeing a move away from just-in-time logistics strategies and increasingly towards just-in-case,” said Andrew Jones of property firm Londonmetric in a November earnings call. “Not only in the period we’re all living through at the moment, but also the period we’re going to live through post-Brexit.” Retailers could also seek to split logistics operations across the UK and EU to avoid charges.

Even with a deal, cross-border traders will have to pay charges on goods travelling between the UK and EU and track every order with commercial paperwork. Britain’s logistics industry estimates that 250 million customs declarations a year will be needed for EU trade.

Holding stock in both markets would eliminate that problem and is a solution the biggest players have opted for. Amazon said in July that from December 28 onwards it would no longer distribute goods for merchants between the UK and the EU – instead, they would have to send their stock separately to fulfilment centres in both regions.

Meanwhile other industry players are beginning to discuss options like converting agricultural buildings, empty space on run-down high streets or vacant basements into warehouse space, according to research by firms including Savills and JLL.

But the construction and conversion process is slow and has been hit by delays during the pandemic and many plans are still a pipe dream.

“At this point, you may just need to choose your market,” Tim Crighton, head of EMEA at real estate advisory Cushman & Wakefield, said.

Parker Lane Group, a UK-based returns facility with offices in Barcelona and Warsaw, said some clients were positioning goods to mitigate tariffs but others said very few of their customers had made any arrangements yet.

“Retailers haven’t pulled the trigger just yet, because of the uncertainty around Brexit,” Al Gerrie of ZigZag said.By the time they do, there may not be much space left to lease.

“If people want warehousing today, you’re looking at older, second-hand, more functionally awkward space, without the same height or loading doors of newbuilds,” Paul Weston, head of Prologis for the UK, said.

Reporting by Victoria Waldersee in Lisbon, Michael Kahn in Prague, Sonya Dowsett in Madrid; Additional reporting by James Davey; Editing by Vanessa O’Connell, Elaine Hardcastle

Blog: Oxfordshire businesses share no deal Brexit deadline worries – Oxford Mail

THE clock is ticking until the UK’s temporary transition before Brexit ends, and Oxfordshire businesses are facing uncertainty as the deadline looms.

It is now a month until the Brexit transition period ends on December 31 and the UK has not reached a trade deal with the European Union.

As the last minute negotiations rumble on, Oxfordshire business owners have shared some of the efforts they have made to prepare for no deal, and also their worries about what next year might bring.

ALSO READ: The giant sack of meat which led police to arrest four women

Bethan Thomas, the co-founder of Long Hanborough-based business HotTea Mama, said she had been trying to prepare her customers in EU countries for longer waits and higher prices for the range of herbal teas she sells.

But the West Oxfordshire business owner said it was hard to predict how much money she would have to pay in custom charges to send tea into mainland Europe after the transition if there is no trade deal.

Oxford Mail:

Bethan Thomas. Picture: Ric Mellis

She said: “Our customers could also be looking at having quite a lot of hassle with customs duties. We are not sure which category we will fall into on herbal tea – it is not clear what the new customs rules will be at this point.”

Ms Thomas added that Amazon, which has been a key part of how she sells and distributes teas, has been more helpful with its advice than the British Government.

ALSO READ: Vulnerable cancer nurses are still working from home to support patients

She added: “At the moment, it feels very much like guesswork. But there are customers we can still work with and we still have time to warn people that a price increase is coming.”

Gaynor Humphrey, owner of Oxford-based toy making company Best Years sells a lot of stock to tourism shops in Europe, including in Paris.

Oxford Mail:

Gaynor Humphrey

She said she is preparing her customers for Brexit by asking them to buy a year’s worth of stock ahead of January 1 before the rules change.

She said: “My preparations are that I anticipate I will not be able to export for the whole of 2021.

“There is no point trying to make plans in December 2020 when come January or February presumably we will start getting details and we can start having a look if it is then viable.”

Ms Humphrey said: “We can prepare for things like changing all the labelling. That is the only physical thing we know we have to do. The rest of it is still all completely unknown.”

Jonathan Andrew, of Banbury based business advice firm Bibby Financial Services, said Brexit should be seen as an opportunity for small businesses.

In a blog on the Bibby website, he said: “To truly thrive, SMEs now need to recognise that this is a turning point and plan ahead for a return to business, whatever the future looks like.”

A UK Government Spokesperson said: “With fewer than 40 days to go, it’s vital that businesses also take steps to prepare now for the changes and opportunities ahead.

“That’s why we’re intensifying our engagement with businesses and running a major public information campaign so they know exactly what they need to do to hit the ground running in the new year. All businesses should visit gov.uk/transition to find out what they need to do.”

Blog: Christmas, coronavirus and fear of no-deal Brexit push Europe’s warehouses to the limit – Midwest Communication

By Victoria Waldersee

LISBON (Reuters) – Retailers worldwide have never had more reason to pack warehouses to the brim and keep stock closer to shoppers who continue to buy a record number of items online.

As well as stocking up for Christmas and any potential coronavirus-related lockdowns, Europe and the UK will soon have Brexit to deal with.

British companies are bringing as much as possible into the country before potential disruptions in January, while their European counterparts are piling up goods in pan-European distribution hubs close to ports like Hamburg or Rotterdam.

E-commerce management platforms including ZigZag and Global-e– which serve Forever 21, Boohoo, Gap, Selfridges and Hugo Boss — said around 30-35% of UK retailers’ sales are to customers in continental Europe. Brands popular in the UK like Chinese e-commerce retailer Shein or American sportswear brand Under Armour are currently stocked exclusively in the EU, ZigZag CEO Al Gerrie said.

The rise in e-commerce throughout the year as a consequence of the pandemic had already pushed warehouse space to the limit.

“Most carriers already operated at Christmas volumes during the first wave. If you now add the Christmas effect on top, it’s just getting even more challenging,” CFO of European e-commerce retailer Zalando, David Schroeder, said in November.

Demand for storage space after Brexit could shoot up even further as retailers seek to avoid customs checks and, if no deal is struck, tariffs.

“Retailers won’t want to be caught out again,” said Nick Cook, head of Europe for warehouse owner GLP, referring to the potential supply shocks Brexit could bring. Their warehouses, covering 3.3 million square metres in continental Europe and 700,000 in the UK leased to companies including H&M, Amazon and DHL are currently 97% occupied.

STOCKING UP

In the UK, leasing volumes for commercial warehouse space are at record levels of 32.5 million square feet and projected to grow to 40 million by the end of the year, according to real estate advisory firm CBRE.

Logistics operator Europa Worldwide Group, which delivers goods for retailers and third parties like DHL and Amazon, is holding 60% more e-commerce products than this time last year, the company said.

Shoe producer Vivo Barefoot said it was shipping as many shoes as possible from its Portugal manufacturing site to its UK warehouse ahead of December.

M&S, Next, and Primark said earlier this year their warehouses were still holding unsold summer clothing.

Even after the pandemic, demand for warehouse space is expected to remain high as customers now used to ordering online continue to do so. E-commerce generally requires around three times as much warehouse capacity as physical retail, according to figures from Prologis.

SPREADING OUT

Warehouse developer Panattoni Chief Executive Robert Dobrzycki said pandemic border closures spurred retailers to separate stock by country instead of stocking for several countries in one shared warehouse space.

“We’re seeing a move away from just-in-time logistics strategies and increasingly towards just-in-case,” said Andrew Jones of property firm Londonmetric in a November earnings call. “Not only in the period we’re all living through at the moment, but also the period we’re going to live through post-Brexit.” Retailers could also seek to split logistics operations across the UK and EU to avoid charges.

Even with a deal, cross-border traders will have to pay charges on goods travelling between the UK and EU and track every order with commercial paperwork. Britain’s logistics industry estimates that 250 million customs declarations a year will be needed for EU trade.

Holding stock in both markets would eliminate that problem and is a solution the biggest players have opted for. Amazon said in July that from December 28 onwards it would no longer distribute goods for merchants between the UK and the EU – instead, they would have to send their stock separately to fulfilment centres in both regions.

Meanwhile other industry players are beginning to discuss options like converting agricultural buildings, empty space on run-down high streets or vacant basements into warehouse space, according to research by firms including Savills and JLL.

But the construction and conversion process is slow and has been hit by delays during the pandemic and many plans are still a pipe dream.

“At this point, you may just need to choose your market,” Tim Crighton, head of EMEA at real estate advisory Cushman & Wakefield, said.

Parker Lane Group, a UK-based returns facility with offices in Barcelona and Warsaw, said some clients were positioning goods to mitigate tariffs but others said very few of their customers had made any arrangements yet.

“Retailers haven’t pulled the trigger just yet, because of the uncertainty around Brexit,” Al Gerrie of ZigZag said.By the time they do, there may not be much space left to lease.

“If people want warehousing today, you’re looking at older, second-hand, more functionally awkward space, without the same height or loading doors of newbuilds,” Paul Weston, head of Prologis for the UK, said.

(Reporting by Victoria Waldersee in Lisbon, Michael Kahn in Prague, Sonya Dowsett in Madrid; Additional reporting by James Davey; Editing by Vanessa O’Connell, Elaine Hardcastle)

Blog: UK vets grow wary as Brexit transition looms – www.thecattlesite.com

News

UK vets grow wary as Brexit transition looms

30 November 2020

A new report from the British Veterinary Association (BVA) says that the UK veterinary profession is facing a triple threat from COVID-19, Brexit and exotic disease.

The report assesses the readiness of the UK and raises serious questions around veterinary capacity and infrastructure just weeks from the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December.

As the UK and EU continue to negotiate a trade deal, BVA is calling on the government to clarify the number of Official Veterinarians that will be needed to certify export health certificates (EHC) and to identify where in the country they will be needed. Whether a free trade deal is reached or not, EHCs will be required, but the detail has not yet been released creating difficulties for industry and the veterinary profession in preparing.

 

BVA has been raising concerns about veterinary capacity since the EU referendum, as around half of new vets registering in the UK each year are from the EEA. COVID-19 has placed additional pressure on veterinary capacity as fewer vets have come to work in the UK during 2020 and capacity within veterinary teams is being stretched with COVID-safe working practices.

The report cites concerns that veterinary surgeons will be taken away from statutory disease surveillance work (such as TB testing) in order to deliver essential export certification work in order to keep goods moving safely. BVA is calling on the government to guarantee that statutory disease work will not be impacted with the resulting negative impacts on animal health and welfare.

The report also raises questions about preparations for pet travel and equine movements. Final decisions on listing the UK for pet travel requirements have still not been made, leaving vets and pet owners confused about what will be required. The worst-case scenario means planning four months ahead of travel.

BVA has recently raised questions of the UK government on how veterinary diagnostic and research samples for CITES-listed species can be moved in a timely fashion between UK and EU diagnostic laboratories. To date, no solution has been reached.

BVA is also concerned that the threat of some exotic diseases is currently high – for example around avian influenza and African Swine Fever – potentially putting an additional strain on veterinary capacity.

Commenting, BVA President James Russell said:

“The veterinary profession is absolutely critical to the safe trading of animals and animal products whether the UK reaches a deal with the EU or not. With just weeks to go until the end of the transition period we are deeply concerned that we still don’t have clarity on exactly what will be required.

“We’re calling on the government to urgently send a strong signal to industry that it needs to recruit Official Veterinarians now to secure the necessary workforce.

“At a time when we need to be gearing up our capacity, our workforce is at full tilt under the shadow of COVID-19 restrictions and depleted by a reduction in registrations from overseas. This needs to be factored into plans.

“Our biggest concern is that as we look to 2021, we face the threat of a triple whammy of COVID-19, Brexit and exotic disease. Vets will always prioritise animal health and welfare and public health, but we need government to give us the information we need to do so.”



Blog: UK minister says on Brexit trade deal: Time is running out – Reuters

FILE PHOTO: A British Union Jack flag flutters outside the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium January 30, 2020. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain and the European Union are running out of time to clinch a Brexit trade deal, Environment Secretary George Eustice said on Monday.

“We really are now running out of time, this is the crucial week, we need to get a breakthrough,” Eustice told Sky.

“I really do think we are now in to the final week or 10 days, of course if great progress were made this week and you’re nearly there it’s always possible to extend those negotiations,” he said.

“David Frost had made clear that we’re continuing the negotiations because we still think there is a prospect that we can get an agreement and while there is we should persevere with those,” he said.

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge and Kate Holton

Blog: UK carmakers plead for clarity as they stockpile parts and cars for Brexit – The Guardian

Carmakers are bracing for the final Brexit deadline by moving cars and parts both ways across the Channel to make sure they are not hit by tariffs if the UK and EU fail to agree a trade deal.

Trade between the UK and EU will be governed by new rules from 1 January, but the imported cars will become 10% more expensive overnight if tariffs are imposed under the World Trade Organization regime.

Industry sources said carmakers have built up extra stocks of cars and parts in the UK, as they have done now for three previous Brexit deadlines, when the increasingly exasperated industry was threatened with a “cliff-edge” jolt to different trading arrangements.

Volkswagen, the world’s largest carmaker and the UK’s second most popular brand by sales, is one of the companies with more imported cars than normal. A spokesman insisted it was not possible to attribute this directly to Brexit, as the company also stockpiles to cover factory shutdowns at Christmas and to prepare for the March numberplate change, when sales tend to rise.

Honda has stockpiled parts to make sure it can continue making its Civic model in Swindon, although the factory is winding down production before closing next year.

Some car dealers are also understood to be importing more stock from Europe before the deadline, according to two people working with companies on their plans.

“If there’s an opportunity to get vehicles into the country before January you’d be silly not to,” said one person at a large carmaker.

Michael Woodward, UK automotive lead at the consultancy firm Deloitte: “The challenge comes in forecasting what the ‘right’ stock is. Getting the wrong stock could be as costly as not having enough, but changing consumer behaviour and Covid-19’s impact on car sales makes it increasingly difficult to forecast even short-term demand.”

Britain’s businesses have expressed their hopes that a Brexit deal will be reached just days before the end of the transition period, as talks between the UK and the EU enter a crunch week.

“Businesses’ resilience has been stripped bare by Covid-19. Rolling deadlines are already costing companies, which have seen cash reserves disappear and stockpiles dwindle,” said Josh Hardie, deputy director general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), which represents around 190,000 businesses.

“It’s time business and political timetables converge, rather than compete. Firms need a deal now,” he said. The group also underlined the urgent need for clarity for businesses.

One area of the automotive sector where rising demand can be safely predicted is electric cars. However, the products are still in relatively short supply as carmakers begin mass production, Woodward added.

The threat of disruption from 1 January hangs over every company selling across borders, no matter what size. Morgan, the maker of handbuilt classic-style cars, only produces about 800 cars a year, but it is rushing to finish orders for customers in Europe before the 1 January deadline.

The UK carmaker, which was bought by Italian investors last year, said: “This is to protect against any potential delays and the initial shock of currently unknown tariffs on the vehicles.”

The stockpiling of parts or products has been widespread because it is one of the few aspects that remains under companies’ control – although keeping parts or cars in warehouses and car parks can mean large amounts of money is tied up.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders found earlier this month that 60% of its members were spending significantly on stockpiling and more than half had employed customs agents to prepare for new paperwork.

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The industry has spent more than £235m on Brexit preparations during 2020, although that cost will pale beside the imposition of tariffs, which would immediately add an average of £1,900 to the cost of imported cars.

Mercedes-Benz owner Daimler and VW’s Porsche have already promised to pass on the cost of tariffs to UK customers.

For UK factories, the threat is potentially greater than lost sales: Nissan has repeatedly warned that the business model of its Sunderland plant, the largest in Britain, would not be sustainable if tariffs are imposed, and a decision from PSA Group on whether or not to replace the Vauxhall Astra production at Ellesmere Port, near Liverpool, is long overdue.

Blog: GBP/USD: Covid vaccine optimism battles Brexit doubts above 1.3300 – FXStreet

  • GBP/USD snaps two-day losing streak, wavers between 1.3330 and 1.3341 off-late.
  • UK’s Raab sounds optimistic over Brexit deal, EU’s Barnier is in London for negotiations.
  • The UK to become the first western country to approve covid vaccine, Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca may gain initial approval.
  • China’s tussle with the West intensifies, UK bans Huawei’s 5G kit installation from September 2021.

GBP/USD picks up bids around 1.333/40, up 0.31% on a day, while heading into London open on Monday. In doing so, the Cable cheers broad US dollar weakness, amid mixed catalysts at home, by keeping the week-start gap-up to 1.3313. Although the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine hopes can keep the bull hopeful, uncertainty surrounding Brexit can trim the monthly gains before the early December deadline.

MHRA is on the move, EU-UK stays at loggerheads…

Following the last week’s news that the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is up for reviewing AstraZeneca’s covid vaccine, the Financial Times (FT) conveyed, during the weekend, that the Pfizer-BioNTech product to battle the COVID-19 will be approved soon. This suggests the Tory government is pushing the moves to cure the pandemic.

Also on the positive side are chatters that regulatory authorities in Europe and the US are also up for approving the key vaccines, which in turn suggests an early recovery from the deadly virus.

On the contrary, the European Union (EU) Brexit negotiator Micher Bernier is in London for the final push over the trade deal. Although key hurdles like fisheries, governance and competition rules are still unsolved, chatters that the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and UK PM Boris Johnson will talk over the deal favor the GBP/USD buyers.

Read: UK’s Raab: Brexit talks in ‘reasonable position’

Risk sentiment stays mixed with the US and the UK stock futures trading negative while the US 10-year Treasury yields stay directionless by press time.

While the Brexit and the vaccine updates are likely to keep the driver’s seat, the early-month US PMIs can offer intermediate entertainment to the markets. It should also be noted that developments surrounding the London-Beijing should also be closely observed as the joint efforts to battle China by the Western countries like the US, Australia and the UK weigh on the risk-tone and may weigh on the quote.

Technical analysis

With the confirmation of a short-term rising wedge bearish formation on the daily chart, GBP/USD bears are likely targeting October’s top near 1.3175 during further declines. However, sustained trading beyond 1.3400 will help the quote to refresh the yearly top beyond 1.3482.