5. Weekly Newsletter
UK COVID Updates
Across the UK there have now been over 3.8 million COVID cases and deaths are now well beyond 100,000. The 100 year old national hero from the pandemic, Captain Sir Tom Moore, has also now been admitted to hospital and even PM Johnson has personally called him to wish a speedy recovery. However, the new COVID case rate continues to plummet and the UK is now at it’s lowest point since the 15th of December. The British crown dependency of the Isle of Man on Monday also announced an end to all COVID restrictions which would even end any requirement for social distancing.
The UK is now well underway to hitting it’s target of 15m vaccinations by the 15th of February with over 9.3m people vaccinated with their first dose. Furthermore, half a million people have also received their second dose and on the 30th of January the UK managed to vaccinate just under 600,000 people in one day. The potential controversial threat of the EU blocking exports of AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines to the UK appears to have also been avoided. Instead, the media now focuses on the new risk to public health coming from a new ‘South African COVID variant’ which will see public health officials go door to door to test 80,000 in identified infected areas.
Brexit on Business
Fashion is synonymous with the UK and the nation’s £35bn fashion and textile industry claims to now be a victim of Brexit. The sector features 52,000 smaller businesses who are currently struggling to navigate the new controls and are being hit by increased returns from customers refusing to pay VAT, or tariff, charges. Walpole claim that 42% of British luxury exports are to the EU and the increased administrative burdens of trading in the continent have become untenable for some firms. However, this has not stopped fashion giant ASOS purchasing COVID-hit Topshop for £295m this week.
A recent success for post-Brexit business came from Nissan, in January, as their CEO declared Brexit had given them a “competitive advantage not only within the United Kingdom but outside” also. He continued to describe the new customs requirements as “peanuts”. The previously mentioned advantage relates to the avoidance of any tariffs hitting the company from 2027 when new legislation will require all batteries (for which the UK is a major manufacturer) to be sourced from the UK or EU. Nissan operate the largest car factory in Britain, located in Sunderland, which employs around 7,000 people and supports close to 70,000 jobs through it’s supply chain.
UK Looks to Join the CPTPP
On Monday, 1st February, the UK Government submitted a notification of intent to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Britain currently trades around £111bn per year between the existing 11 member countries and to an audience of around 500m people. All member countries must cut or scrap approximately 95% of tariffs on each other members’ goods.
Businesses have welcome the move and the Federation of Small Businesses stated that it would help firms “thrive and succeed more than ever”. If the UK is successful in it’s application then the most profitable exports to this region, machinery and medicines, would become cheaper and supply chains could be redistributed. Furthermore, the current CPTPP accounts for approximately £1 in every £12 of FDI which the Government hopes to boost in this new decade.