China and India’s regional trade squabble echoes in Europe

India’s decision not to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership promoted by China is politically significant.  But its impact on trade and prosperity is more nuanced, as Bloomberg explains.

It avoids some market opening on both sides (India to agriculture; others to services) that would have been economically beneficial.  But the greater significance of the pact is the restrictions on access it would impose on those outside the regional trade grouping.

“Still, the effect of harmonizing standards at the regional-agreement rather than global level is the opposite of an opening of trade  … The standards that are established across the zone inevitably resemble those of its largest member. That would be fine in a global agreement, but in a regional deal the effect is to raise barriers to nations outside the bloc with different rules.” Continue reading “China and India’s regional trade squabble echoes in Europe”

Boris’s enemies caught in the headlights

A little-known London autumn ritual is the culling of the deer herd in Richmond Park.  It’s done at night, which helps avoid unwelcome publicity.

At the other end of the SW postcode, Boris is weeding out the Conservative party – but more publicly.  His former Work and Pensions minister, Amber Rudd, announced she was leaving Parliament – for now – and was then told that she was not going to be readmitted to the party ranks anyway. Continue reading “Boris’s enemies caught in the headlights”

Boris gets an election

At the fourth time of asking, Britain’s House of Commons granted PM Boris Johnson’s wish for an early election.  If the House of Lords agrees, it should take place on Thursday 12 December.

Why couldn’t his opponents have hung on a bit longer, given their majority in the lower chamber? Having by a supreme effort denied Johnson ratification of his Brexit deal by 31 October and got the EU to extend the Brexit deadline to 31 January, it’s hard to see what credible strategy they could agree on.  Voting the deal down would have begged the question (from the EU and the voters): what next?  So they stopped dodging the unavoidable. Continue reading “Boris gets an election”

Is the EU saying no to Boris?

The pound fell to a new low against the euro and no-deal Brexit came a step closer as EU representatives scorned the British government’s Brexit offer and demanded unilateral concessions.  The EU has made clear its lack of interest in engaging with the offer on current terms. The prospects for a counter offer seem bleak.

Indeed, it might be thought surprising that even at this late stage the EU has not actually set out publicly terms on which it would be content for the whole of the UK (including Northern Ireland) to make a clean negotiated exit from the EU.

Continue reading “Is the EU saying no to Boris?”

Boris’s offer tests the EU – and Ireland

In a disciplined performance, Boris Johnson used his speech to the Conservative party conference on Wednesday to launch his Brexit offer to the EU.  There was as much unconventional use of the English language as ever, but this time he stayed on message.  And he seemed to enjoy himself too, after last week’s turmoil.

Unlike some other Brexit negotiating steps, the offer is a public one.  The letter was despatched to the EU and released on the same day (full text here).   Because it’s also an offer to the British electorate. Continue reading “Boris’s offer tests the EU – and Ireland”