The UK’s charm offensive in south-east Asia is meant to be a bold marker of post-Brexit international ambition — but to some it smacks of a desperation to retrofit a “global Britain” foreign policy as the EU exit door fast approaches. (...) “Most south-east Asians I talk to — regardless of their respect for the UK — see Brexit as a remarkable act of self-harm,” comments Ying Staton, Head of Asia at Global Counsel.
Global trade war
"We're not in a trade war yet, but we're in the risk of a trade war," explains Gregor Irwin, chief economist from Global Counsel. "One of the concerns of a trade war is that it wouldn't just involve the US and China. It would inevitably drag in other countries as well, or other countries would be caught up in the crossfire between the US and China."
Not long after the UK voted to leave the EU, Angela Merkel’s staff jested that they could write a short script for Theresa May to put Britain in a better negotiating position.
“There is an interesting point where Ireland ceases to be an asset and becomes a liability for the EU,” said Stephen Adams, Senior Director at Global Counsel. “We are not there yet but we may get there. It is looking like a pretty intractable problem. And Merkel is like anyone at that level of diplomacy: they don’t like intractable problems.”
From the day it launched membership talks with Britain to the last days of the country’s negotiations to leave, the EU has been ruthless in advancing its interests in one sector above all: fish.
“On issues like fishing rights we are going to discover that what the EU actually wants is a bespoke arrangement with an element of cherry-picking,” said Stephen Adams, a former EU trade official now at Global Counsel — a reference to the EU subverting some of the guidelines on future UK relations.
Ajay Banga, Mastercard president and chief executive officer, Ailish Campbell, Canadian chief trade commissioner and assistant deputy minister for International Business Development, Peter Mandelson, former European Trade Commissioner and Global Counsel co-founder and chairman, and Frederick W. Smith, FedEx chairman and chief executive officer, discuss the outlook for global trade with Bloomberg Economics' Stephanie Flanders at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore on Nov. 6, 2018.
Britain and the EU are trying to surmount the impasse in Brexit talks with a hybrid plan that aims to avoid both a hard border on the island of Ireland and a customs border that divides the UK.
“Modern association [EU] agreements have very strong level playing field provisions, even for trade arrangements that are relatively conventional in FTA terms,” said Stephen Adams, a former EU trade official now at Global Counsel.
Peter Mandelson, co-founder and chairman of Global Counsel, discusses the U.S.-China trade tensions, China as a trading partner, the pressure from the U.S., where he sees the relationship going, Brexit negotiations and the U.K.'s post-Brexit future. He speaks exclusively on "Bloomberg Daybreak: Middle East" from the sidelines of the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore.
Liam Fox has suffered a setback in his bid to secure fast track normalisation of the UK’s World Trade Organization commitments before Brexit, conceding that Britain faces the prospect of lengthy negotiations.
Stephen Adams, senior director at Global Counsel, a consultancy, said: “It’s a headache but you don’t need your own WTO schedules locked down on Brexit day one. Given the chance for other WTO members to press the UK for new concessions, this was never likely to be done quickly.”
Ying Staton, Head of Asia at Global Counsel: "Warner Bros breathed a sigh of relief recently when it was confirmed that regulators would not block the launch of Crazy Rich Asians in China. Why would a film like this have caused concern in the first place? I can think of one reason."
When the U.K. voted to leave the European Union in 2016, the British government had no chief trade negotiator and only a handful of people engaged in trade policy. As part of the EU, Britain hadn’t been able to forge its own trade deals since the 1970s.
Stephen Adams, Senior Director at Global Counsel, said: "Until countries know whether the U.K. is remaining in the EU’s customs union or not after the transition, they probably won’t want to strike trade deals".