“UK’s post-Brexit trade at risk as WTO’s top court shuts down” (thanks to Trump)

“The UK is at risk of being left at the mercy of the EU in its trading relationship in a year’s time after Donald Trump engineered the shutdown of the World Trade Organization’s top court.

The US president’s refusal to approve the appointment or reappointment of any judges on the appellate body has left it unable to function.

From midnight on Wednesday, the WTO court will no longer adjudicate on trade disputes, putting the world at risk of a free trade free-for-all in which the largest blocs have greater freedom to use their economic weight to do as they wish.

Countries or trade blocs who have not negotiated bilateral trade deals containing dispute resolution mechanisms will have no independent means for resolving their problems with each other.

If the UK leaves the EU on 31 January, Johnson has said he will not extend an 11-month transition period in which he wants to negotiate a comprehensive free trade deal with the bloc.

A failure to complete those complex talks by the end of that period would result in the UK trading with the EU entirely on WTO terms, including the imposition of tariffs and quotas, from 1 January 2021.

Under the terms of the transition period, the UK is to remain in the single market and EU customs union temporarily.

Should the UK, once outside of those structures, come to believe that the EU is imposing vexatious barriers to trade, there would be no recourse to legal redress for the British government.

The CBI has said the shutdown of the WTO court will leave global trade “like a football match without referee”. André Sapir, a senior fellow at the Brussels-based thinktank Bruegel, said the UK would be left in “legal limbo”. “It is in the UK’s interests for a solution to be found,” he said.

“Relying on WTO rules doesn’t look so great this morning,” one EU official said. “The WTO buccaneering Brexiteer alternative looks like hubris.”

A number of senior Conservatives, including the former cabinet minister John Redwood, have previously championed leaving the EU without a trade deal.

The EU is looking at building a shadow arbitration system as an interim solution but there is no agreement as yet within the bloc or internationally.

The WTO was established in 1995 to deal with trade disputes. The UK will become an independent member if it leaves the EU.

Phil Hogan, the European commissioner for trade, who will oversee the EU’s negotiations with the UK, said: “With the appellate body removed from the equation, we have lost an enforceable dispute settlement system that has been an independent guarantor – for large and small economies alike – that the WTO’s rules are applied impartially.”

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/dec/11/uk-post-brexit-trade-at-risk-as-wto-top-court-shuts-down?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

“Senior British diplomat in US quits with tirade over Brexit ‘half-truths’ “

Not seen this in any British newspaper.

“… In her resignation letter, addressed to deputy ambassador Michael Tatham and which Hall Hall [correct name] shared widely with colleagues in the diplomatic service, she said that her departure had nothing to do with being “for or against Brexit, per se,” but instead was an expression of frustration about how the policy was being carried out.

Hall Hall, a 33-year veteran of the UK foreign service, and a former ambassador to Georgia, said UK institutions had been undermined and the reputation of British democracy abroad had been imperiled.

“I have been increasingly dismayed by the way in which our political leaders have tried to deliver Brexit, with reluctance to address honestly, even with our own citizens, the challenges and trade-offs which Brexit involves; the use of misleading or disingenuous arguments about the implications of the various options before us; and some behaviour towards our institutions, which, were it happening in another country, we would almost certainly as diplomats have received instructions to register our concern,” she wrote in her letter, dated December 3.

“It makes our job to promote democracy and the rule of law that much harder, if we are not seen to be upholding these core values at home.”

Delivering Brexit has been impossible. Stopping it will be even harder

Hall Hall said she could no longer reconcile her commitment to the job with the demands made of her. “I am also at a stage in life where I would prefer to do something more rewarding with my time, than peddle half-truths on behalf of a government I do not trust,” she wrote in the letter.

Though Hall Hall did not refer to Johnson or any other UK leader by name in her letter, she expressed concern about the divisive rhetoric that has characterized British politics since the Brexit referendum.

Johnson’s comments have hardened in recent months. He has attacked attempts to prevent a no-deal Brexit as “surrendering” to Brussels and dismissed fears that his language encourages supporters to abuse his opponents.

Johnson has defended his rhetoric, telling the BBC after a particularly rancorous parliamentary debate in September that avoiding such terms risked “impoverishing the language and diminishing parliamentary debate”.

Much of the blame for the strategy has been pinned on Johnson’s lead adviser, Dominic Cummings, who ran the Vote Leave campaign in the Brexit referendum of 2016 and is credited with creating the “Take Back Control” slogan. Cummings has been unrepentant over his tactics. …”

https://edition.cnn.com/2019/12/06/uk/top-british-diplomat-quits-brexit-intl/index.html

Tories slammed by other Tories for introducing a Labour-type solution post-Brexit!

Owl says: but if we are all going to be richer by leaving the EU, why will this be needed?

And in a “free market” aren’t uneconomic businesses supposed to fail? Confused(dot) Owl!

Tories slammed by free market groups over state aid pledges.

Business and free market groups slammed pledges today by Boris Johnson to expand state aid for businesses if the Conservative Party win the upcoming election.

In a press conference today, Johnson promised to expand Britain’s state aid regime once the UK leaves the EU.

“We will back British businesses by introducing a new state aid regime which makes it faster and easier for the government to intervene to protect jobs when an industry is in trouble,” a briefing document said.

Head of regulatory affairs at the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) Victoria Hewson said support for state aid was “veiled support for cronyism.”

“For all the lip service the Conservatives pay to free markets and free enterprise, today’s announcements about state aid call into question their basic understanding of how these systems work,” she said.

“Calls to expand state aid translate to veiled support for cronyism. Interventionist and protectionist policies always end up disadvantaging smaller businesses in favour of a few giants.”

A spokesperson for the Institute of Directors said: “It’s not clear how these proposals will fit with ambitions of a ‘Global Britain’. The Conservatives must be wary of opening a can of worms on state aid, it’s important to have consistent rules in place to resist the impulse of unwarranted protectionism.” … “

Tories slammed by free market groups over state aid pledges

Top Brexiteer James Dyson massively expands operations in new HQ Singapore

” Dyson has chosen former nightclub complex Saint James Power Station as its new Singapore headquarters, saying it would provide a “most inspiring backdrop” for its staff.

The 110,000 square foot site had housed one of the largest nightlife destinations in Singapore up until last year, with 11 so-called “concepts” including nightclubs and food sites.

Dyson said the property would be converted into research laboratories, which would allow it to double the number of engineers and scientists it could employ in Singapore over the next five years. Currently, around 1,200 people work for the British business in Singapore, of which more than 350 are engineers.

Jim Rowan, chief executive of Dyson, said: “After 12 years of growth in Singapore, continuing expansion in the UK, and growing sales globally, we have outgrown our current technology centre in Singapore.

“It will be a hive for our research and development endeavours.”

The company announced it was moving its headquarters from the UK to Singapore in January – a decision which prompted a public backlash amid claims Dyson was abandoning its heritage and potentially depriving the UK of millions of pounds of tax revenue. …

… The company had insisted the HQ move was a commercial decision given its manufacturing base and supply chain is located in the Far East, saying having management there “makes sense”.

Some had pointed to Singapore’s more lenient tax regime compared to the UK, with corporate tax at 17pc compared to 19pc in Britain, although Dyson has denied suggestions its decision was related to tax.

Since moving its headquarters, the company’s founder Sir James Dyson has bought a three-storey penthouse in the city for a reported S$73.8m (£43.3m). It is located at the top of Singapore’s tallest building, the Guoco Tower.”

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2019/11/28/dyson-picks-former-nightclub-new-singapore-base-uk-exit/