The British government has announced plans for special events on the night of Jan. 31 when the country officially leaves the European Union but the country's treasury chief has admitted that some U.K. business sectors will suffer as a result.
Sajid Javid told the Financial Times in an interview Saturday that Britain's regulations will not be aligned with the EU in the future and that those changes may hurt some businesses. Currently the EU is Britain's largest trading partner.
"There will not be alignment, we will not be a rule-taker, we will not be in the single market and we will not be in the customs union — and we will do this by the end of the year," he said, referring to a deadline at the end of 2020 for conclusion of what are expected to be contentious trade talks with the then-27 member EU.
Javid's comments sparked fresh concerns among business leaders worried about that lack of clarity on the substance of the trade rules that would take effect in less than 12 months time.
Food and Drink Federation chief Tim Rycroft warned that diverging from EU rules could lead to higher food prices for consumers.
"It will mean businesses will have to adjust to costly new checks, processes and procedures, that will act as a barrier to friction-less trade with the EU and may well result in price rises," he said.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders emphasized the need to avoid high tariffs and other trade barriers once EU ties are severed.
Chief executive Mike Hawes said "billions" would be added to the cost of business development unless a mutually beneficial agreement is reached.
Britain will officially leave the EU bloc on the night of Jan. 31, even though it will keep following EU rules for an 11-month transition period. It will be the first nation ever to leave the bloc. The British government plans to mark the occasion with a series of upbeat events.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to make a speech to the nation that night after holding a rare cabinet session in the north of England to emphasize his government's plan to spread opportunity to that economically beleaguered region.
The government also plans to mark Brexit by projecting a clock onto the prime minister's official residence at 10 Downing Street in London that will count down until 11 p.m., when the break takes place.
The entire government neighborhood of Whitehall is to be illuminated for the occasion as part of a light show, with Union flags flown on all the poles in Parliament Square. The government will also create a commemorative coin that will enter circulation that day.
But Johnson's Conservative government is no longer actively pushing a plan to have the familiar chimes of the Big Ben clock tower at Parliament sound at 11 p.m. despite a private fundraising push in support of activating the chimes, which are under repair.
Britain voted in a 2016 referendum to become the first nation to leave the 28-nation EU, but the process has moved more slowly than expected. A stalemate last year kept a withdrawal bill from passing, leading to a rare December election that gave Johnson's pro-Brexit Conservative Party a strong majority in Parliament.
The Brexit divorce bill quickly passed when the new Parliament convened. A transition period will last until the end of 2020 as negotiators try to forge a trade arrangement between Britain and the remaining EU nations.
Johnson, who is also seeking a trade deal with the United States, has ruled out seeking an extension of the deadline for the EU talks.
The newly signed China-U.S. phase-one trade deal will reduce the uncertainty that has impeded global economic growth, International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said Friday.
"It is a welcoming sign that we now have the phase-one deal, sign in terms of reducing some of the uncertainty," Georgieva said at an event hosted by Peterson Institute for International Economics, a thinktank based in Washington D.C.
The IMF chief said her organization is making some projections around the impact of more certainty, which will be shared on Monday as part of the World Economic Outlook to be released at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
The multilateral lender expects the trade deal to support the growth of China's gross domestic product (GDP), Georgieva said. "It brings China in the parameters around the 6-percent growth for 2020, rather than below," she said.
In October, Georgieva warned that trade tensions were "taking a toll" on global growth, at a time when the global economy was going through a "synchronized slowdown."
According to the IMF's earlier calculation, the cumulative effect of the U.S.-China trade conflict, provided no actions taken, could mean a loss of 0.8 percent of global GDP, or around 700 billion U.S. dollars by 2020.
"What we are seeing now is that we've some reduction of this uncertainty, but it's not eliminated," Georgieva said. "We would see shrinkage of this negative impact, but not the eradication of this impact."
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) confirmed Friday that it is in discussions with major electronics manufacturer Foxconn, formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd., regarding the potential creation of an equal joint venture.
The proposed joint venture is to develop and manufacture in China new generation electric vehicles and to engage in the IoV (Internet of Vehicles) business, FCA said in a statement.
"The proposed cooperation, initially focused on the Chinese market, would enable the parties to bring together the capabilities of two established global leaders across the spectrum of automobile design, engineering and manufacturing and mobile software technology to focus on the growing battery electric vehicle market," it added.
The parties are in the process of signing a preliminary agreement which will govern further discussions aimed at reaching final binding agreements in the next few months, FCA said.
The Italian-American carmaker said it closed 2019 with December sales in Europe up 13.8 percent year-over-year to more than 69,400 vehicles and a market share of 5.5 percent.
Founded in China's Taiwan Island in the 1970s, Foxconn has expertise in cloud computing, mobile devices, Internet of Things (IoT), big data, artificial intelligence (AI), smart networks and robotics, according to its corporate website.
Dutch agriculture exports rose 4.6% in 2019 from the previous year to a new record of 94.5 billion euros ($105.2 billion), the country's statistics office and a research organization said Friday.
In this country famous for its colorful fields of tulips, horticultural products such as fresh flowers, bulbs and plants were the highest-value agricultural sector, amounting to 9.5 billion euros.
Rising prices accounted for about two thirds of the increase, with growth in sales volumes making up the other third, the Central Bureau for Statistics and Wageningen Economic Research said.
Meat exports were second, weighing in at 8.8 billion euros, helped by soaring prices of pork sold to China. The rise was fueled by outbreaks of African swine fever in parts of Asia. Pig meat sales to China rose from 117 million euros in 2018 to an estimated 377 million euros in 2019, according to the research.
The Netherlands' eastern neighbor Germany remained the top market for exports, accounting for 25% of all sales, followed by Belgium and the United Kingdom.
German officials have agreed on a plan to shut down the nation's coal-fired power plants by the mid to late 2030s, the government said Thursday.
A year ago, a government-appointed panel recommended that Germany stop burning coal to generate electricity by 2038 at the latest, as part of efforts to curb climate change.
However, efforts to translate that into policy had stalled over recent months. Some areas, particularly in the less prosperous east, are heavily dependent on lignite coal mining.
Federal government officials and governors of affected states agreed on a "path to shut down" coal-powered plants at a meeting that ended in the early hours of Thursday, the government said in a statement.
It said that reviews will be carried out in 2026 and 2029 to determine whether Germany can exit coal-fired electricity generation in 2035, three years before the final deadline. Many other details weren't immediately available.
Germany gets more than a third of its electricity from burning coal, generating large amounts of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.
The federal government already has approved a plan to spend up to 40 billion euros ($44.6 billion) by 2038 to cushion the impact on coal-mining regions of abandoning the fossil fuel. That money is supposed to start flowing once parliament has passed legislation setting out the dates and terms of Germany's exit from coal.