Britain and Switzerland to sign post-Brexit trade agreement

In this file photo taken on January 21, 2019 A pedestrian walks pas a placard reading "People's Vote" as Brexit activists demonstrate outside of the Houses of Parliament in central London, while Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May makes a statement to the House of Commons on changes to her Brexit withdrawal agreement. (AFP file)
Updated 11 February 2019

Britain and Switzerland to sign post-Brexit trade agreement

  • The accord will protect a trade relationship worth $41.41 billion
  • Britain has reached an impasse in its last-minute renegotiation of an exit deal that it agreed with the EU last year

LONDON: Britain and Switzerland will sign an agreement on Monday to continue trading on preferential terms after Brexit, the British trade department said, protecting a trade relationship worth 32 billion pounds ($41.41 billion).
The formal signing of the deal, on which agreement had previously been announced, is one of only handful of concrete steps Britain has made toward ensuring that all the trade deals it currently benefits from as an EU member will continue after it leaves the bloc next month.
“Not only will this help to support jobs throughout the UK but it will also be a solid foundation for us to build an even stronger trading relationship with Switzerland as we leave the EU,” International Trade minister Liam Fox said in a statement.
The deal reflects Switzerland’s “mind the gap” strategy of ensuring seamless trade ties with Britain, regardless of whether London is able to strike and approve a formal exit agreement with Brussels by March 29, the date it is scheduled to leave.
Britain has reached an impasse in its last-minute renegotiation of an exit deal that it agreed with the EU last year but that was overwhelmingly rejected by the British parliament in January.
The government said last month it expects Britain will have most of the agreements it needs to replicate existing trade deals between the EU and third countries ready by the end of March.
A similar continuity agreement has been announced with Israel, and ‘mutual recognition’ deals have been agreed with Australia and New Zealand.
But the head of the Confederation of British Industry, Carolyn Fairbairn, said on Sunday the “unfolding nightmare” of Britain’s exit meant that major trade partners like Japan and South Korea were reluctant to sign deals until they knew the exact shape of future EU-Britain ties.
“It will be the decisions that businesses take about jobs and investment — and they will reduce them — so you have less potential to trade globally, that will mean less investment in the future and that will mean fewer jobs in the future,” she told Sky News.


Qantas Airways profits lower after oil prices rise

Updated 5 min 41 sec ago

Qantas Airways profits lower after oil prices rise

  • The 99-year-old airline was hit by an Aus$614 million fuel bill increase and Aus$154 million in foreign exchange impacts

SYDNEY: Qantas Airways posted a 6.5-percent fall in annual net profit Thursday, attributing the slide in earnings to higher oil prices and a weaker Australian dollar.
Despite record revenues, the Australian flag carrier said its after-tax profit fell to Aus$891 million ($604 million), down from Aus$953 million the previous year.
The 99-year-old airline was hit by an Aus$614 million fuel bill increase and Aus$154 million in foreign exchange impacts.
But Qantas CEO Alan Joyce was upbeat about the results, which came on the back of healthy profits the previous year.
“Even with headwinds like fuel costs and foreign exchange, we remain one of the best-performing airline groups in the world,” he said.
In the 12 months to June 30, underlying profit before tax — the airline’s preferred measure that strips out one-off costs — was down 17 percent at Aus$1.3 billion.
Qantas declared a final dividend of 13 cents per share and announced an off-market buyback of up to 79.7 million shares.
It will also hand its workers travel bonuses worth Aus$32 million.
Joyce said the outlook for the airline was “mixed,” with weakness in the domestic tourism market and flat corporate travel demand.
Nevertheless, he said the airline was “confident” about the year ahead due in large part to being in a “strong financial position.”