UK negotiator dismisses reports of $54bn Brexit bill

Brexit Minister David Davis arrives to attend a Cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street in central London, on Sept. 21, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 24 September 2017
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UK negotiator dismisses reports of $54bn Brexit bill

LONDON: Brexit negotiator David Davis on Sunday dismissed a report that Britain was prepared to pay a £40 billion ($54 billion) divorce bill on leaving the EU.
The Times quoted a “Brussels source” in their story on Saturday, but Davis told BBC television that “they sort of made that up.”
“I’m not going to do an actual number on air, it would be ridiculous to do that, but we have a fairly clear idea where we’re going on this,” he said.
He called EU claims for Britain to contribute to the bloc’s future pension pot as “debatable to say the least.”
“The last time we went through line by line and challenged quite a lot of the legal basis of these things and we’ll continue to do that.”
British Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday revealed plans for a transition period of around two years after the country officially leaves in 2019, during which time Britain would still largely be under current EU rules.
Davis stressed that Britain “would not under any circumstances” accept the supremacy of the European Court of Justice after the transition period, a key issue for Brexit hard-liners.
He added that it was “quite likely” that a joint system of EU-UK courts will be agreed in order to resolve disputes.
May’s Cabinet is divided over certain key issues of Brexit, particularly on what terms Britain wishes to access the EU’s single market after it has left.
The pro-EU faction of her government, led by finance minister Philip Hammond, want close ties with the bloc, while Brexit campaigner and Foreign Minister Boris Johnson is pushing for a cleaner break.
Johnson heightened tensions last week with a newspaper article spelling out his vision, and the latest edition of the Sunday Telegraph reported he had set down further demands.
He said Britain should not adopt any new EU rules made during the transition period and wants London to be able to sign trade deals with countries outside the EU during the two-year period, according to the paper.
Davis denied Johnson’s article had changed the content of May’s speech, saying the “policy in the prime minister’s speech had been coming for a long time.
“I don’t think there’s been any change of policy in the last few weeks.”
Davis will head to Brussels on Monday to relaunch Brexit negotiations with the EU.
A new book “Fall Out: A Year of Political Mayhem,” serialized in the Sunday Times, revealed that Davis, Johnson and Hammond were involved in discussions about possibly replacing May as leader following her disastrous election campaign, which saw her lose her parliamentary majority.
According to the book, Hammond texted Johnson as the results came through in the June snap vote, suggesting that he was prepared to back the foreign secretary if he ran for the leadership.
The plan was apparently shelved after May made it clear she was not going to stand down and Davis indicated he would not defer to Johnson in Brexit negotiations.
— AFP


EU to curb steel imports after Trump tariffs

Updated 18 July 2018
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EU to curb steel imports after Trump tariffs

BRUSSELS: The European Union will launch measures on Thursday designed to prevent a surge of steel imports into the bloc following the US imposition of tariffs on incoming steel and aluminum, the EU’s official journal said.
The European Commission has proposed a combination of a quota and a tariff to counter EU concerns that steel products no longer imported into the United States would instead flood European markets.
The measures are the third part of the EU’s response to US tariffs. It has also imposed tariffs on €2.8 billion ($3.3 billion) of US imports, including bourbon and motor bikes, and has launched a legal challenge at the World Trade Organization.
The quotas for 23 steel product categories have been set at the average of imports over the past three years, with a 25 percent tariff set for volumes exceeding those amounts. These quotas are allocated on a first come first serve basis.
The main exporters of steel to the EU are China, India, Russia, South Korea, Turkey and Ukraine.
The Commission said that the EU steel industry was “in a fragile situation and vulnerable to a further increase in imports,” with US tariffs reducing its capacity to sell there making them even more vulnerable.
“In the absence of provisional safeguard measures, it is likely that the situation will develop into actual serious injury in the foreseeable future,” the EU official journal said.
European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said in a statement that the bloc was faced with no choice given the threat of serious harm to EU steelmakers and workers, but that EU markets would remain open with traditional trade flows.
The Commission will continue its investigation, which was launched on March 26, until the end of the year. The provisional safeguards can be in place for up to 200 days.
Imports of 28 products increased by 62 percent from 2013 to 2017, most noticeably in 2016 and with further rises this year. However, for five products, imports did not increase, leading the Commission to exclude them from its measures.
For 12 steel product categories, imports from countries including China, Russia and Ukraine are already subject to anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties. The Commission said it would consider suspending or reducing them to avoid the imposition of “double duties.”
EU manufacturers of the products ranging from hot and cold rolled sheets, plates, coated steel and tubes include ArcelorMittal, Voestalpine and Tata Steel.