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We’re already halfway through March, the year is in full swing and as promised, a lot has been happening in the world of international trade.

A week ago, Jeremy Hunt delivered his Spring Budget, possibly his last as Chancellor. He reiterated what most of us know, this last year has been a tough one for all but there are signs of recovery, and according to Mr Hunt, Britain will recover better and more quickly than many other countries and key trading partners of the UK including Germany, France, Italy and the US.

As record numbers of UK haulage firms collapsed last year and with many UK hauliers struggling with increasing costs, the industry received welcome news of an extension to the 5p cut on fuel duty for another 12 months. Many though, including the Road Haulage Association (RHA) were disappointed that the Government missed the chance to provide direct short-term support to operators with suggestions such as a temporary suspension to the HGV Levy ignored.

There was some good news for the UK automotive, aerospace and life sciences industries with the promise of more investment and lower taxes for businesses – meaning more jobs and higher growth. However, the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) complained there was a missed opportunity in offering no support to private customers looking to take their first steps in electric car ownership.

The automotive industry made headlines too for other reasons as the EU announced possible retroactive tariffs on Chinese battery electric cars arriving in vast numbers. China has recently become the worlds biggest exporter of cars, overtaking Japan, but word of state subsidies to EV producers has been leaked prompting the action.

Large amounts of discounted vehicles arriving from China spells problems for European car makers prompting Renault to announce they are in early talks with Volkswagen to share development costs on the base of a new super mini. Such collaborations are proof of interesting times in world trade as many big businesses look for ways to increase efficiency.

With a UK General Election due to be called this year, Angela Raynor, the Labour Deputy Prime Minister visited India where she reiterated Labours commitment to building on the long-awaited Free Trade Agreement. Word from India is the ruling party are stalling current negotiations as they believe they may get a better deal if Labour win the election. Espace continue to see our own Indian cargo volumes growing in both air and sea modes in both directions.

Despite all the challenges at home and across the world, UK companies continue to export and import. In early March, we welcomed news that we are finally able to complete export declarations using the Customs Declaration Service. All traders will need to register for the CDS if they haven’t done so already.

Our “Indispensable 8” guide to exporters is available to be read here.


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