Britain, EU tell each other to move on trade

Officials remove the British flag at European Union Council in Brussels. Britain is urging businesses to step up preparations for a no-deal departure from EU. (Reuters/File)
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Updated 20 October 2020

Britain, EU tell each other to move on trade

  • Both sides call on each other to protect billions of dollars of trade between the neighbors

BRUSSELS: Britain and the EU said on Monday the door was still open for a deal on their post-Brexit relationship, calling on each other to compromise to find a way to protect billions of dollars of trade between the neighbors.

With just over two months before Britain ends a status quo transition arrangement with the EU, talks on a trade deal are deadlocked, with neither wanting to move first to offer concessions.

A no-deal finale to Britain’s five-year Brexit drama would disrupt the operations of manufacturers, retailers, farmers and nearly every other sector — just as the economic hit from the coronavirus pandemic worsens.

European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic repeated on Monday that the EU still wanted a trade deal but not “at any cost” after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday there was no point in continuing talks.

“It has to be a fair agreement for both sides — we are not going to sign an agreement at any cost,” Sefcovic told reporters after meeting Michael Gove, Britain’s point man on the existing divorce agreement, in London.

“The EU is ready to work until the last minute for a good agreement for both parties,” Sefcovic said.

Britain, increasingly frustrated by the EU’s refusal to start text-based talks, called on the bloc to make the first move, with its housing minister saying that Brussels only had to make “some relatively small but important changes.”

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick called on the EU to “go that extra mile, to come closer to us on the points that remain for discussion.”

A spokesman for Johnson again ruled out prolonging any negotiation beyond the end of this year, when the transition period runs out, saying the EU “must be ready to discuss the detailed legal text of a treaty in all areas with a genuine wish to respect UK sovereignty and independence.”

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier had been due in London for talks with British counterpart David Frost this week. Instead, they will now speak by telephone on Monday to discuss the structure of future talks, Barnier’s spokesman said.

Negotiations broke down on Thursday, when the EU demanded Britain give ground. Issues still to be resolved include fair competition rules, including state aid and fisheries. EU diplomats and officials cast Johnson’s move as a frantic bid to secure concessions before a last-minute deal was done, and European leaders have asked Barnier to continue talks.

British officials have repeatedly said any deal has to honor Britain’s new status as a sovereign country and not try to tie it to EU rules and regulations.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said compromises on both sides would be needed. French President Emmanuel Macron said Britain needed a deal more than the 27-nation EU.

Britain is launching a campaign this week urging businesses to step up preparations for a no-deal departure. In a statement accompanying the launch, Gove says: “Make no mistake, there are changes coming in just 75 days and time is running out for businesses to act.”

More than 70 British business groups representing over 7 million workers on Sunday urged politicians to get back to the negotiating table next week and strike a deal.


Saudi central bank governor expects more competition, growth in fintech

Updated 01 December 2020

Saudi central bank governor expects more competition, growth in fintech

  • SAMA issued several regulations and systems related to fintech, as part of its efforts to promote the sector

DUBAI: The Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) expects more competition and growth in the new sectors such as financial technology (fintech), as well as the conventional industries of the capital market, including banks, said Governor Ahmed Alkholeify.

Speaking during the opening session of “Fintech Tour 2020”, the SAMA governor stated that the central bank took a key step towards activating the Sandbox experimental environment, which resulted in the establishment of 32 fintech firms.

In addition, SAMA issued several regulations and systems related to fintech, as part of its efforts to promote the sector and achieve the targets of the financial sector development program, he added.

Meanwhile, Mohammed El-Kuwaiz, chairman, Capital Market Authority (CMA) highlighted the importance of innovation in fintech-related solutions in the capital market, adding that fintech enables the capital market to capitalize and reach out to more segments of companies and investors who previously had no access to the capital market.

"This technology has successfully delivered services to the largest possible number of people. We are excited about what fintech can provide for the capital market in terms of broadening its base of participants and beneficiaries."

El-Kuwaiz also indicated that fintech solutions are innovative by nature, and hence require tailored regulatory frameworks.

The CMA continues to motivate and enable entrepreneurs, with three rounds of licensing fintech companies completed, resulting in licensing of 15 firms in various domains, the chairman stated.

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