The UK’s National Security and Investment Bill – the new foreign investment control regime: choices and direction

The post below was first published on our Competition blog

The UK Government has a significant choice to make over the next few weeks: it has to decide on its approach to protecting national security in a changing global landscape, while maintaining the country’s appeal – built up over the last 40 years – as an attractive and predictable jurisdiction for business and trade, welcoming to friendly foreign investment. The Government announced the National Security and Investment Bill in December 2019 and it is soon to be published. Continue reading

International trade and sustainable development: On level playing field, cross-linkages and cherry-picking

The post below was first published on our Brexit blog

There was time when trade negotiations were just about reducing tariffs and quotas. That was the purpose of GATT negotiating rounds and any tariff concession obtained by one contracting party had to be applied to all countries without discrimination. There were exceptions, in particular for customs unions and free trade areas, but these were subject to conditions and needed to cover substantially all trade in the region so that they did not cause too much trade distortion. There were a few other wrinkles such as rules against dumping and injurious subsidies but otherwise the world of trade was relatively straightforward.

Times have changed.  Over the years many other subjects have shoe-horned their way into trade negotiations.

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UK sets out mandate for trade negotiations with USA

This post was first published on our Brexit Notes blog.

Today, the UK Department for International Trade (DIT) published its proposed approach to the future relationship negotiations with the USA. It is anticipated that the negotiations between the two countries will begin this month. The talks will be led from the UK side by Crawford Falconer, the DIT’s Chief Trade Negotiation Adviser.

The UK has commented that its main objective is to “agree an ambitious and comprehensive free trade agreement with the United States that strengthens the economic relationship with our largest bilateral trading partner, promoting increased goods and services trade and greater cross-border investment”. The UK also underlined that, as in the UK-EU trade negotiations, that it will walk away “if it is not a deal that suits the UK because one of the key reasons people voted to leave the EU was to have control over their own rules and regulations”.

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UK Department for International Trade outlines proposed approach to FTAs with priority countries and launches public consultation on new tariff policy

This post was first published on our Brexit Notes blog.

Following the UK’s departure as a Member State from the EU on 31 January 2020, the UK is now considering pursuing Free Trade Agreements (“FTAs”) with the EU and the rest of the world.

Today, the Department for International Trade (“DIT”) outlined the UK Government’s proposed approach to the negotiation of FTAs with countries which it has identified as being priority partners. These at present include the USA, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. It is thought that these bilateral negotiations may pave the way for the UK eventually to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. Continue reading

The View from Brussels – Brexit: next steps and options to reconcile haste with ambition

The post below was first published on our Brexit blog

Brexit now seems inevitable on 31 January 2020 but that is only the beginning of the process of defining a new relationship between the UK and the EU. Serious negotiations on that relationship will only start thereafter, hopefully as soon as February. In this View from Brussels, we look at how this process will unfold.

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Capital controls in the UK?

Since the US Dollar departed from the gold standard in 1971 much of the world has abandoned or substantially relaxed capital and exchange controls. International trade and investment has grown dramatically since that time and it is acknowledged that open markets stimulate trade. The UK has been since the 1980s at the forefront of countries advocating open economies and international trade and investment.

Until recently, it would have been laughable to envisage the UK either needing or wanting to introduce capital and exchange controls, but there have been persistent rumours that the Labour Party would take this course, if it won the next General Election, in order to counter a flight of capital from the UK, or the risk of this occurring. The Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, in a speech in January 2019 was emphatic that the Labour Party, if it came to power, would not introduce capital controls and there is no reference in the Labour Party manifesto. Continue reading