UK warns EU on Brexit: We won’t blink first

UK warns EU on Brexit: We won’t blink first
Britain says the EU is dragging its feet in talks and has failed to fully accept that it is now an independent country. (Reuters)
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Updated 06 September 2020

UK warns EU on Brexit: We won’t blink first

UK warns EU on Brexit: We won’t blink first
  • Britain left the EU on Jan. 31 but talks have so far made little headway on agreeing a new trade deal with the bloc

LONDON: Britain will not blink first in Brexit trade negotiations with the European Union and is not scared of a no-deal exit, the country’s top Brexit negotiator warned the bloc on Sunday.
Britain left the EU on Jan. 31 but talks have so far made little headway on agreeing a new trade deal with the bloc by the time a status-quo transition arrangement ends in December.
“We came in after a government and negotiating team that had blinked and had its bluff called at critical moments and the EU had learned not to take our word seriously,” negotiator David Frost told the Mail on Sunday.
“So a lot of what we are trying to do this year is to get them to realize that we mean what we say and they should take our position seriously,” he was quoted as saying.
Talks are due to resume in London on Tuesday but they have stalled over Britain’s insistence that it have full autonomy over state aid and its demands over fishing.
Britain says the EU is dragging its feet in talks and has failed to fully accept that it is now an independent country.
“We are not going to be a client state. We are not going to compromise on the fundamentals of having control over our own laws,” Frost told the Mail. “We are not going to accept level playing field provisions that lock us in to the way the EU do things.”
“That’s what being an independent country is about, that’s what the British people voted for and that’s what will happen at the end of the year, come what may,” Frost said.
He said a lot of preparation had been done for a possible exit without a trade deal.
“I don’t think that we are scared of this at all,” Frost said. “If we can reach an agreement that regulates trade like Canada’s, great. If we can’t, it will be an Australian-like trading agreement and we are fully ready for that.”


Indonesia campaign helps SMEs enter Saudi market

Indonesia campaign helps SMEs enter Saudi market
Updated 19 January 2021

Indonesia campaign helps SMEs enter Saudi market

Indonesia campaign helps SMEs enter Saudi market
  • They will be the main target of the export initiative, which is estimated by the Indonesian Ministry of Trade to be able to generate $60 million

JAKARTA: Indonesia has launched a campaign to help small firms in the country compete for millions of dollars-worth of food trade in Saudi Arabia.

The government aims to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) improve the quality and competitiveness of their products to meet the Kingdom’s required standards, Indonesian trade and commerce officials have said.

Under normal circumstances, before the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, around 1.5 million Indonesians a year make the pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj and Umrah and hundreds of thousands work in the Kingdom.

They will be the main target of the export initiative, which is estimated by the Indonesian Ministry of Trade to be able to generate $60 million.

To meet the Saudi food regulator’s standards, the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce (Kadin), the Ministry of Trade, and the Ministry of Cooperatives and Small-Medium Enterprises have teamed up to assist SMEs in improving products such as bottled chili sauce, soya sauce, coffee, tea, and sugar that are in highest demand among Indonesians in Saudi Arabia.

Kadin chairman, Rosan Roeslani, told Arab News: “We have facilitated five small-medium enterprises that produce soya sauce to obtain Saudi Food and Drug Authority approval for distribution, while nine tea and coffee producers are in the pipeline to also obtain a license. We have also submitted the application for four bottled chili sauce producers.”

While travel and pilgrimage restrictions remain in place due to the COVID-19 outbreak, he said that the time before things get back to normal will be used to prepare the SMEs — which contribute 60 percent to the country’s gross domestic product and employ up to 90 percent of its workforce — for expansion into the Saudi market as soon as the pilgrimage sector resumes.

“We still have time to groom them as there are many aspects such as hygiene, and consistency in their product quality and quantity that they need to improve,” Roeslani added.

In 2014, the Ministry of Religious Affairs issued a regulation obliging catering companies that provided food and drink to Indonesian pilgrims in Saudi Arabia to source their products from Indonesian producers whenever possible.

Indonesia’s vice religious affairs minister, Zainut Tauhid Sa’adi, said that as each Indonesian pilgrim received food from caterers an average 75 times during his or her pilgrimage, demand was high but supply in Saudi Arabia remained limited and similar products from India and Thailand had been used instead.

Kasan Muhri, director general for export development at the Ministry of Trade, told Arab News that the program to prepare the SMEs had been in the making since 2017 and officials eventually decided to launch it this year despite the COVID-19 restrictions.

“Just because there are few Umrah pilgrims now and this year’s Hajj remains uncertain, it does not mean that the market is gone.

“People from around the world would still go to Saudi Arabia to perform the pilgrimage, not just Indonesians, so we are doing this to anticipate the market when the economy revives, and things are recovered. We don’t want to be left behind,” Muhri said.

Besides food and beverage products, officials say they are also looking into the possibility of exporting items such as goodie bags, prayer beads, and other pilgrimage accessories made by Indonesian SMEs.