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UK and Ukraine agree ground-breaking digital trade deal

The agreement provides a framework for the UK and Ukraine to cooperate to promote compatibility between their respective digital identity systems to help address this…reports Asian Lite News

The UK and Ukraine on Wednesday agreed a ground-breaking new Digital Trade Agreement (DTA) that will help Ukraine rebuild its economy and support livelihoods following Russia’s illegal invasion.

Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch MP and Ukraine’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Economy Yulia Svyrydenko will meet in London today to agree the deal. It is the second such trade deal the UK has secured, following the world-leading agreement with Singapore finalised earlier this year.

UK negotiators worked at record pace with their Ukrainian counterparts to deliver a deal after the Ukrainian government highlighted the important role Ukraine’s first ever digitally focused trade agreement could play in bolstering the country’s economy.

Trading digitally is particularly important in the current conflict, where damage to Ukrainian infrastructure and warfare makes it much harder to trade physically. Digital tools and technologies will help Ukrainians access everyday vital goods and services during the war.

For example, there is a critical need for people to be able to use digital solutions to prove they are who they say they are, despite the loss of critical documentation or displacement across borders. The agreement provides a framework for the UK and Ukraine to cooperate to promote compatibility between their respective digital identity systems to help address this.

Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch MP said, ““The landmark digital trade deal agreed today between our two countries paves the way for a new era of modern trade between us. This agreement will mean our businesses and governments can collaborate even more and ensure Ukrainians have access to essential goods and services digital trade opens up. This will help protect jobs, livelihoods and families now and in Ukraine’s post-war future.”

First Deputy PM and Minister for Trade and Economy Yulia Svyrydenko said, “This digital trade agreement illustrates that Ukrainian IT companies operating in Ukraine are in demand around the world despite all the challenges of war. The UK-UA Digital Trade Agreement has enshrined core freedoms for trade in digital goods and services. Ukraine believes that an open and free framework for the digital economy is the best investment in future oriented development.”

Ukraine will have guaranteed access to the financial services crucial for reconstruction efforts through the deal’s facilitation of cross-border data flows. It also establishes greater cooperation between the UK and Ukraine on cybersecurity and emerging technologies, helping to keep UK and Ukrainian businesses and people safer.

By streamlining digital border processes, Ukrainian businesses will be able to better access the digitally delivered goods and services they need to succeed. They will also be able to trade more efficiently and cheaply with the UK through electronic transactions, e-signatures, and e-contracts.

As a global leader in digital, the UK is ideally positioned to aid Ukraine’s post-conflict transition to a digital economy, with over two-thirds of our services exports to Ukraine already digitally delivered.

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UK inches closer to trans-Pacific trade pact

The UK on Friday reached a major milestone to join what Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan has hailed ‘one of the largest and most exciting free-trading clubs in the world’.

Confirmation from the Japanese government, as Chair of the UK’s Accession Working Group on behalf of the CPTPP members, in the early hours of this morning means the UK has moved into the second ‘market access’ phase of negotiations with the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a free trade area worth £8.4 trillion in GDP.

The announcement comes ahead of Trevelyan’s visit to Indonesia, Japan and Singapore next week to oversee the launch of the final accession stage and deepen trade ties throughout the Indo-Pacific region.

Moving to the final stage of the accession process is a key milestone towards acceding to CPTPP and means the UK has demonstrated to members of the partnership that we are a high-standards, fair trading economy.

“CPTPP is one of the largest and most exciting free-trading clubs in the world. Today’s announcement is a major milestone for us joining this dynamic group of economies and means the finish line is in sight,” said Trevelyan.

“I look forward to visiting Asia next week and flying the flag for Global Britain by holding valuable trade talks with key partners across the Indo-Pacific region and pushing to secure CPTPP accession by the end of the year. This is just one aspect of our Indo-Pacific strategy, which will benefit businesses and consumers across every part of the UK and help us to level up at home.”

Following today’s announcement, market access negotiations will now begin in which the UK will agree new trading relationships with CPTPP countries, which could lead to 99.9% of UK exports to CPTPP being eligible for tariff-free trade.

CBI President Lord Karan Bilimoria said: This marks a significant step towards the UK’s ambition to join one of the largest free trade agreements in the world. Global trade is pivotal for levelling up our regions, and this deal could unlock opportunities with countries contributing more than £100 billion to our economy. It will also give the UK a chance to play a leading role in shaping standards.

Nicola Watkinson, Managing Director, International Trade and Investment, TheCityUK, said: “This announcement is a significant milestone in the UK’s journey towards joining this strategically important trade bloc and demonstrates the real momentum behind the UK’s application. CPTPP member countries include some critical growth markets for the UK-based financial and related professional services industry. Membership will give UK firms greater access to business opportunities in one of the fastest growing regions in the world, benefiting the UK’s overall export performance.”

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Boris dismisses visa link with Indian free trade deal

Apparently, the government is thinking of relaxing visa controls from India in order to get a free trade deal. Whilst a free trade deal is valuable in itself, we should not be held to ransom, said Conservative MP…reports Asian Lite News

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday sought to dismiss the notion that visa norms are set to be relaxed for Indians in pursuit of a free trade agreement (FTA) with India. During the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) session in the House of Commons, Johnson was asked by one of his Conservative Party MPs to comment on reports that emerged in the UK media over the weekend about easier visas for Indian professionals and students to make an FTA more attractive to India.

Conservative MP Sir Edward Leigh asked Boris Johnson if a relaxation of visa controls from India was in the works to secure a trade agreement. “I don’t recognise the account he’s given at all. We don’t do free trade deals on that basis,” said Johnson.

“Net immigration since we took back control (Brexit) has gone down our new Borders Bill currently in the House of Lords enables us properly to take back control of our borders and to tackle illegal immigration,” he said.

Free movement of people from within the European Union (EU) was a key issue during the 2016 Brexit referendum, with Boris Johnson pledging to take back control to create a fairer visa regime for applicants from within and outside of the EU post-Brexit.

Apparently the government is thinking of relaxing visa controls from India in order to get a free trade deal. Whilst a free trade deal is valuable in itself, we should not be held to ransom, said Conservative MP Sir Edward Leigh in the Commons.

“Would he agree with me that our new working class voters who voted Brexit did not vote to replace immigration from Europe with more immigration from the rest of the world…will he convince us that he is determined to connect to our supporters and control immigration,” he questioned.

His question in the Commons follows reports that UK International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan is expected to travel to Delhi later this month to kick-start FTA talks and is expected to offer a visa scheme similar to that agreed as part of the UK’s FTA with Australia.

Such a scheme would allow young Indians the chance to come and work in the UK for up to three years. Another option reportedly being considered would be to cut visa fees for students and allow them to stay in Britain for a period after they graduate, possibly building upon the Graduate Route visa under the points-based immigration rules currently in place.

India is projected to become the world’s third largest economy by 2050 and a free trade agreement will open up huge opportunities for UK businesses to trade with India’s GBP 2.25 trillion economy, said a Department for International Trade spokesperson, without confirming or denying the reports of a visa scheme linked with an FTA.

Companies up and down the country can look forward to the benefits, from manufacturers in the West Midlands to tech experts in Belfast, and we look forward to launching negotiations early this year, the spokesperson said.

The UK government’s stated priority for the FTA talks is a broad and comprehensive FTA, which achieves short and long-term benefits for British businesses. DIT sources said that a range of measures will be under consideration to enable British business to achieve maximum benefits from any deal. UK’s target will be on reduced tariffs from up to 150 per cent on key exports such as cars and Scotch whisky to make UK goods more competitive in the Indian market.

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UK plans cheaper, easier visas for Indians as it eyes trade deal

UK Ministers believe a trade deal with Delhi would provide British businesses with a head start start in what is predicted to be the world’s third-largest economy by 2050…reports Asian Lite News.

UK Ministers are keen to ease immigration restrictions in a bid to make it easier for thousands of Indian citizens to live and work in the country as part of the forthcoming trade talks, the Guardian reported.

The potential offer will be under discussion when International Trade Secretary, Anne-Marie Trevelyan travels to Delhi this month, reports the Times UK.

Relaxing immigration rules for Indian citizens is a key demand from Delhi.

Trevelyan is said to have the backing of the foreign secretary, Liz Truss, who is keen to curb China’s growing influence in the region. However, they are likely to meet strong resistance from Some Secretary Priti Patel, who opposes the offer.

According to the Times UK, visa relaxation options under consideration include a scheme similar to one agreed with Australia which would allow young Indians the right to live and work in the UK for up to three years.

Another would be to cut visa fees for students and allow them to stay in Britain for a period of time after they graduate. Visa fees for work and tourism, which can cost up to 1,400 pounds, could also be reduced as a sweetener.

UK Ministers believe a trade deal with Delhi would provide British businesses with a head start in what is predicted to be the world’s third-largest economy by 2050.

It could also see Britain jump ahead as India does not have bilateral trade deals with either the US or the European Union.

Ministers are said to be in agreement that a “generous” offer on visas could be the price for such a deal.

One government figure told the Times: “The tech and digital space in India is still hugely protectionist and if we could open up even a slither of access it would put us ahead of the game.”

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UK prepares for trade deal with GCC

Financial and digital services companies, along with education and healthcare providers could also strengthen their position in a region that holds UK expertise in high regard, it said…reports Asian Lite News.

UK’s International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan has kicked off preparations for a trade deal with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), launching a 14-week consultation calling for the public and business to share their views ahead of negotiations starting in 2022.

The GCC is an important trading partner of UK with almost £22 billion of UK exports and bilateral trade worth over £30 billion.

 The advanced trade deal is aimed at strengthening ties to the next level in industries of the future such as digital trade, services and green growth – delivering higher-paying jobs across the country. 

British business could seize new opportunities in areas like renewable energy and play a key role in helping a region that wants to move away from a reliance on oil, Department of International Trade said in a press release.

Financial and digital services companies, along with education and healthcare providers could also strengthen their position in a region that holds UK expertise in high regard, it said.

Over £597 million of British food and drink exports headed to GCC countries last year, including lamb, biscuits and chocolate. Farmers and food producers could now benefit hugely from better market access to a region that imports virtually all its food and has high demand for top-quality British produce.

The UK is already a top destination for investment from GCC members and a trade agreement is expected to attract even more into world-leading UK industries such as renewable energy, infrastructure, tech and life sciences. 

Trade Secretary Trevelyan is to hold a bilateral meeting in London with GCC Secretary General H E Dr Nayef Falah M Al-Hajraf and Assistant Undersecretary for Domestic and Foreign Trade, Hamad Bin Salman Al Khalifa, from the Bahrain Government, who hold the current rotating presidency of the GCC, to mark the beginning of the consultation.

Concluding in January 2022, it includes a questionnaire that will gather information from participants about their experiences and priorities when doing business with the countries in the GCC to ensure any deal reflects the country’s best interests.

A trade agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council is a huge opportunity to liberalise trade with a growing market for British business and deepen ties with a region that is vital to our strategic interests,” said Anne-Marie Trevelyan.

“We want a modern, comprehensive agreement that breaks down trade barriers to a huge food and drink market and in areas like digital trade and renewable energy which will deliver well-paid jobs in all parts of the United Kingdom,” she added.

International Trade Minister Ranil Jayawardena said: “The nations forming the Gulf Cooperation Council are, together, one of our biggest trading and investment partners and are home to over 50 million people.”

“From exports of Welsh lamb and Scotch beef, to biscuits from Belfast and financial services from the City of London, we are determined to strike a deal that will further cement our relationships, attract investment, promote trade opportunities and provide significant benefits for British business, creating jobs in communities across the country.”

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Sharjah’s trade mission to Russia concludes

The Emirate of Sharjah’s trade mission to Russia concluded its work by holding several meetings with officials from representatives of government agencies and private companies in Saint Petersburg…reports Asian Lite News

The mission, which is part of Sharjah Week in Russia from 6-12 September, was led by the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SCCI) represented by the Sharjah Exports Development Center (SCCI).

The last stop was in Saint Petersburg, where HE Abdullah Sultan Al Owais, Chairman, SCCI, met with Arabi Abubakarov, Deputy Chairman of the International Relations Committee, Konstantin Sokhenko, Chairman of the Culture Committee, and representatives of the Committee on Industrial Policies, Innovations, and Trade in St. Petersburg.

Sharjah’s trade mission to Russia concludes

During the meeting, the two sides discussed several topics of mutual interest and emphasized the need to double efforts to restructure laws and regulations that spur investment, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic.

They also highlighted the importance of enhancing cultural cooperation between Sharjah and Saint Petersburg by strengthening the communication between relevant government institutions and bodies.

In the meantime, the Sharjah Chamber invited Saint Petersburg to participate as a guest of honor in the 50th Watch & Jewelry Middle East and Show (WJMES) which is set to take place in April 2022.

The participants also agreed to develop a mechanism for exchanging information, visits and trade delegations, especially small and medium companies in order to support this vital sector.

Abdullah Sultan Al Owais shed light on the tourist, cultural and economic factors, and the investment climate of the Emirate of Sharjah, in addition to the so many competitive advantages which makes Sharjah an ideal environment for Russian businessmen, not to mention its strategic location which makes it an important gateway to various countries in the region.

He pointed to the importance of the role of the SEDC in establishing trade and investment partnerships to enhance the exports of the members of the Sharjah Chamber, exploring new markets to expand their business, forging fruitful investment partnerships, and promoting high-quality Emirati products.

The Saint Petersburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry witnessed a consultative meeting attended by Abdullah Sultan Al Owais, Members of the Chamber’s delegation, Vladimir Katnev, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Saint Petersburg Chamber of Commerce, and Elena Zeltukina, Vice President of the Chamber.

Sharjah’s trade mission to Russia concludes

The attendees emphasized the need to join forces in order to support the development of areas of economic cooperation between the UAE in general, Sharjah in particular, and Russia.

In the same meeting, the SCCI received an official invitation to participate in the Saint Petersburg Chamber’s celebrations marking the centenary of its establishment, which is set to take place next November.

Abdullah Sultan Al Owais: “We have fruitful partnerships and strong cooperation with the Saint Petersburg Chamber. We look forward to strengthening joint efforts to benefit from the rewarding investment opportunities in the industrial and commercial sectors and other sectors, relying on the organization of such missions.

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He also stressed the importance of making the most of the bilateral relations between the Emirate of Sharjah and the historic city of Saint Petersburg by organizing many joint cultural events.

For his part, Vladimir Katanaev expressed his pleasure to meet the SCCI delegation once again, lauding the existing partnership relations between the Sharjah and Saint Petersburg Chambers over the past years.

He added that Russia’s participation in Expo 2020 Dubai will be an opportunity to hold business meetings, especially those that will be organized by the UAE-Russia Business Council.

Sharjah’s trade mission to Russia concludes

Katanaev said that Saint Petersburg is one of the Russian tourist cities, where it received during the past few months more than 4,000 tourists from the UAE, while about 73,000 tourists visited the UAE from Saint Petersburg.

He expressed his country’s welcome to Emirati investors to visit the city to learn about its investment components in vital sectors such as international navigation, agriculture, industry, and advanced technology.

Bilateral meetings were also held between the businessmen participating in the delegation of the Sharjah Chamber mission and their counterparts in Saint Petersburg, who made presentations on the investment opportunities and advantages they enjoy, with the aim to establish partnerships that serve the private sector, increase the volume of trade exchange, and develop projects in various sectors.

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India nearing ‘early harvest’ trade deal with UK

UK Department of International Trade said both the ministers have discussed the findings from the consultation and agreed the steps to get ready to launch negotiations later this year – including the start of a series of trade working groups this month, reports Asian Lite Newsdesk

Indian Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal on Monday held a discussion with British Secretary of State for International Trade Liz Truss on enhancing the India-UK trade partnership.

Taking to Twitter, Goyal said that India and UK are strengthening trade ties by moving towards an early harvest deal, followed by a comprehensive Free trade agreement (FTA).

“Held a productive discussion with Secretary of State for International Trade, UK Rt @TrussLiz, on enhancing the India-UK trade partnership. India & UK are strengthening trade ties by moving towards an early harvest deal, followed by a comprehensive FTA,” Goyal tweeted.

The UK Department of International Trade said both the ministers have discussed the findings from the consultation and agreed the steps to get ready to launch negotiations later this year – including the start of a series of trade working groups from September.

These discussions between the UK and Indian governments will help both sides better understand each other’s position on potential chapter areas in any trade deal including tariffs, standards, IP and data regulation, it said.

They also discussed the newly established Enhanced Trade Partnership, and confirmed their commitment to timely implementation of the market access package.

Liz Truss has reaffirmed her ambition to negotiate a trade agreement that delivers results for the British people and businesses including those in digital and data, tech and food and drink.

Both ministers agreed that continuing to engage with the business community was vital throughout the forthcoming negotiations.

Findings from the Department for International Trade’s consultation will be published before the start of negotiations as part of a wider package outlining a strategic rationale for the FTA, including the UK’s negotiating objectives and economic analysis of a potential deal.

Meanwhile, Truss will give a keynote speech today setting out the next phase of the UK’s trade strategy that will help level up every region of the UK.

The UK is well-placed and ready to seize the global opportunities of future trade, International Trade Secretary Liz Truss will say.

In a speech to the Policy Exchange thinktank, Truss will set out the next phase of the UK’s trade strategy and explain why it is time to “move from defence to offence in trade” in order to drive a free trade revival in regions outside London and deliver the Government’s levelling up agenda.

She will set out how her Department will target trade deals with the fastest-growing parts of the global economy and ramp up support for exporters to help them seize new opportunities. She will say “the status quo is not an option”, and outline how her trade policy will open new trade routes beyond Europe.

Earlier, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak had announced new steps to boost investment and tackle climate change at the 11th Economic and Financial Dialogue (EFD) between the UK and India held earlier this month.

The UK government announced a USD 1.2 billion package for public and private investment in green projects and renewable energy, and the launch of the Climate Finance Leadership Initiative (CFLI) India partnership.

Sunak and Sitharaman also agreed to be ambitious when considering services in the upcoming UK-India trade negotiations, which could open up new opportunities for UK financial firms and help more Indian companies to access finance in the city of London. Services account for 71 per cent of the UK’s GDP, and 54 per cent of India’s GDP.

India and the United Kingdom enjoy close bilateral relations in diverse areas. India-UK economic ties are important as together they are two of the world’s top seven economies with a combined GDP of over USD 5 trillion

India-UK trade has more than doubled since the first EFD in 2007, with bilateral investment supporting over half a million jobs across both countries, a statement released earlier by the Finance Ministry informed.

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