Three in four British businesses are concerned about a further economic shock arising from failure to reach a trade deal with its largest trading partner the European Union (EU) by the end of the year, a new survey revealed on Friday.
According to a survey of 752 firms between 25 June and 15 July by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) , one third said they were very concerned by the prospect of exiting the EU without a trade agreement, with 42 percent saying they were moderately concerned.
The survey found that nearly 60 percent business said preparations for the end of the transition period have stalled, while 21 percent reported preparations going backwards since January.
“An ambitious deal with the EU is essential to shield firms from a further trade shock at a time when they are least equipped to cope,” said CBI Director-General Carolyn Fairbairn.
“What’s clear from this wide-ranging survey is that the majority of firms have neither the time nor resources to prepare for a non-negotiated EU exit. While many larger firms have long had plans in place for a no-deal outcome, smaller firms will struggle to cope with a double dose of disruption. The same is true across the Channel, with EU companies’ preparations also hit hard by the pandemic,” Fairbairn said.
Post-Brexit trade talks between Britain and the EU started in March, producing limited progress so far with major disagreements on fisheries and fair competition. While talks will drag into August, both sides still hope for a deal in autumn.
Britain departed from the EU on January 31 and entered a 11-month transitional period until the end of this year. If Britain and the EU fail to secure a trade deal before the transitional period expires, both sides will trade under World Trade Organization terms, under which new border controls and tariffs will mean extra cost for their trade.
France to push for rights sanctions in EU recovery plan – Minister
France will push for financial sanctions under the EU’s 750 billion euro ($880 billion) coronavirus recovery fund against states that undermine fundamental human rights, its junior European Affairs Minister told the Financial Times newspaper.
“We can’t tell (French, Polish, Hungarian and European) citizens that (we) can have financial solidarity in Europe and not care how the basic rules of democracy, free media and equal rights are respected,’’ Clement Beaune said in an interview published late on Sunday.
The European Union is struggling to respond to what many in Western Europe see as creeping authoritarianism on its eastern flank.
The European Commission, EU lawmakers and activists have said freedoms are notably under threat in Poland and Hungary.
Beaune told the newspaper that the EU must be tougher on breaches by those countries.
Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)
Canada’s economy up 4.5 percent in May
Canada’s gross domestic product grew 4.5 percent in May because businesses reopened after unprecedented economic lockdowns due to the COVID-19 spread in March and April, according to Statistics Canada on Friday.
May saw rebounds across multiple industries with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, including retail trade that registered a 16.4 percent surge to mark its largest monthly increase since 1961.
May’s gains offset some of the March and April declines, economic activity remained 15 percent below February’s pre-pandemic level.
In May, 17 of 20 industrial sectors posted increases.
Both goods-producing industries rose 8 percent while the services-producing sector was up 3.4 percent.
Preliminary information indicates an approximate 5 percent increase in GDP for June and an approximate 12 percent decline in real GDP in the second quarter of 2020.
Owing to their preliminary nature, these estimates will be revised on Aug. 28 with the release of the official GDP for June and the second quarter.
Iraqi PM says early elections to be held on June 6, 2021
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi on Friday set June 6, 2021, as a date for the early elections, which is part of his government’s political program.
“I announce that June 6, 2021, will be the date for the early parliamentary elections and we will do our best to give success to this elections by protecting it and provide its needs,” al-Kadhimi said in a televised speech.
“I ask the parliament to send the electoral law to the presidency for approval, and that the electoral commission to enjoy full independence, in addition to that the elections to be held under international observers,” al-Kadhimi said.
Al-Kadhimi’s comments came after he held a meeting on Thursday with the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), during which he confirmed that the government “is proceeding with the early elections, which is one of the main goals of the government program.”
Late last year, the Iraqi parliament passed most of the elections draft, but differences remained on a few articles due to political row among the political blocs.
On May 6, al-Kadhimi was sworn in as the new prime minister in Iraq, following the approval of the parliament on most of his cabinet members.
Spain reports post-lockdown record number of coronavirus cases
Spain‘s Ministry of Health reported on Friday 1,525 new coronavirus cases, the biggest spike since the lockdown was lifted in June.
It was the first day since the end of the State of Alarm, which ended on June 21, when the total number of cases surpassed 1,500. It was also the third day in a row that Spain diagnosed over 1,000 infections, resembling figures from the beginning of the lockdown.
The cases reported on Friday were concentrated in four regions — Aragon (511), Madrid (372), the Basque country (158) and Andalusia (107). Catalonia registered 64 infections in the last 24 hours.
The ministry said that another ten people had died in the last seven days.
As of Friday, the number of coronavirus cases totaled 288,522 since the beginning of the pandemic.
At a summit with regional leaders on Friday, Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez called the health crisis “an economic and social emergency.”
Sanchez insisted that Spain must focus on economic recovery after it registered an “unprecedented” collapse in its second-quarter gross domestic product (GDP). According to the National Statistics Institute, GDP sank by 18.5 percent quarter-on-quarter in the second quarter of 2020.
“Very tough months await us, but we are going to get out of this,” Sanchez said.