Posts Tagged ‘World Trade Organisation’

UK’s Farage says EU’s Barnier doesn’t get Brexit — Britain has already given enough in negotiations

January 8, 2018


© AFP | Ex-UKIP leader Nigel Farage said the EU’s Michel Barnier ‘clearly did not understand why Brexit happened’ after a meeting
BRUSSELS (AFP) – Leading Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage accused EU negotiator Michel Barnier of failing to understand why Britain voted to leave the union after the two men held their first official meeting on Monday.Farage also urged the former French minister to compromise, including on financial services in any future EU-UK trade deal, saying Britain had already given enough in negotiations.

“Mr Barnier clearly did not understand why Brexit happened,” Farage, the former head of the UK Independence Party and still a member of the European Parliament, wrote on Twitter.

Britain voted to leave the European Union by a narrow 52 to 48 percent margin in June 2016 after a campaign in which Farage played a key role.

Farage later said in a video message: “He doesn’t understand for one moment that immigration was a big reason that we voted for Brexit. (It was) perfectly clear to me the British government hasn’t even discussed the subject with him so far.

“We’ve given an awful lot already, and in terms of him giving a bit back, to make sure there’s a deal on services and financial services, well, I wouldn’t say it’s a happy new year for the Brexit deal.”

He added that the chances of Britain leaving in March next year without an agreement on future relations with the EU — which would leave businesses subject to punishing World Trade Organisation tariffs — “will increase” without a compromise from Barnier.

Britain and the EU reached agreement in December on the terms of its exit from the bloc, including a multi-billion divorce bill.

They are expected to start talks in February on a transition phase after Britain leaves — the EU says it should last until the end of 2020 — during which most EU rules will still apply.

Negotiations on future trade and security relations are due to start in April, but the EU says it is impossible to agree on an actual trade deal until after Britain has formally left.

Barnier has travelled across Europe in recent months meeting governments to hear their wishes for the Brexit negotiations, but has also met several figures who are not directly involved in the talks, including British opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.


China hits back at Donald Trump’s ‘zero-sum mentality’ on trade, threatens retaliation

January 3, 2018

US politicians, with a ‘deep-rooted mistrust’, have failed to catch up with China’s understanding of cooperation, Xinhua commentary says

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 January, 2018, 10:02pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 January, 2018, 11:26pm
South China Morning Post

Beijing on Wednesday criticised Washington’s “zero-sum mentality” with regards to bilateral trade and threatened to retaliate against the tougher stance taken by US President Donald Trump in recent weeks.

“China and the United States are about to ride a bumpy journey in trade in 2018 if the US government goes it own way, and retaliatory measures by China could be on the table,” Xinhua said in an English-language commentary.

The article did not say what measures the government might take.

It said, however, that Trump’s decisions to launch an investigation into alleged Chinese intellectual property theft, reject China’s market economy status at the World Trade Organisation, and label China as a strategic “competitor” had eroded goodwill between the world’s two largest economies.

 The “bonhomie” seen as US$250 billion worth of trade deals were struck between China and the US during Donald Trump’s visit to Beijing in November was fading away, Xinhua said. Photo: AFP

The “bonhomie” seen as US$250 billion worth of trade deals were struck during Trump’s visit to China in November was fading away because Washington was “stuck in a zero-sum mentality”, the report said.

“China has not hesitated to make it clear that it is not seeking global dominance, rejecting a zero-sum mentality between countries, especially between the United States and China … China’s case is not well received by the United States,” it said.

“With deep-rooted strategic mistrust towards China, US politicians have failed to catch up with China’s understanding of cooperation and adopted an increasingly protective and isolationist approach.”

The threat of a trade war between China and the US has been simmering since Trump was elected to the White House in November 2016. Since then he has accused China of stealing American jobs and threatened to impose punitive tariffs on Chinese products of up to 45 per cent.

China’s tactic of promising to buy more US products helped to avert a trade war last year, but the imbalance between the two countries continued to widen.

Even by Beijing’s figures, China’s trade surplus with the US in the first 11 months of 2017 was bigger than that for the whole of the previous year.

 China’s trade surplus with the US in the first 11 months of 2017 was bigger than that for the whole of 2016. Photo: AP

Tensions between the two countries have certainly been rising. In late November, the US Department of Commerce said it was initiating countervailing duty and anti-dumping investigations into Chinese aluminium alloy sheet imports despite not having received an industry complaint.

On Tuesday, the US Commission for Foreign Investment vetoed Chinese firm Ant Financial’s takeover bid for US-based money transfer company MoneyGram International over national security concerns.

Despite suggesting that the US felt “uneasy” in the face of a rising China, the Xinhua commentary sought to find a positive note.

“Are there reasons for optimism in 2018? An injection of hope is urgently needed for the world’s top two economies to sail the charted course,” it said.

“The price is too high for the two peoples to pay if scepticism grows and tension escalates,” it said, adding that for both countries, cooperation was “the only correct choice”.


Donald Trump’s U.S. Tax Cuts Bring Threats of Trade War From Europe

December 12, 2017

PANICKING European finance ministers have threatened a trade war with the US over Donald Trump’s planned tax cuts.

Europe finance ministers have warned Mr TrumpGETTY

Europe finance ministers have warned Mr Trump

Ministers from Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Chancellor Philip Hammond have signed a scathing letter to US counterpart Steven Mnuchin, warning they could retaliate with their own legislation.They claim Mr Trump’s plans for deep US business tax cuts, currently working their way through Congress, could end up “seriously hampering genuine trade and investment flows between our countries”.

And they say the US could flout World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules by treating domestic operations differently to those from abroad.

Europe is concerned the President is using the policy to push an “America first” agenda, risking a huge row with the world’s biggest economy.The letter stated US action to protect its tax base risked impacting “genuine business activities”.

And the ministers warned: “While the establishment of a modern, competitive and robust tax system is one of the essential pillars of a state’s sovereignty, it is important the US government’s rights over domestic tax policy be exercised in a way that adheres with international obligations to which it has signed up.”

Donald Trump is working on huge tax reformsGETTY

Donald Trump is working on huge tax reforms

Among the measures highlighted in the letter is a planned 20 per cent “excise tax” on purchases by US companies from foreign subsidiaries which would not apply to similar domestic transactions.The letter stated: “Given this measure would impact on genuine commercial arrangements, and would do so only where payments are being made for foreign goods and services, it could discriminate in a manner that would be at odds with international rules embodied in the WTO.

“Bearing in mind that almost half of transatlantic trade is intra-company trade, this risks seriously hampering genuine trade and investment flows between our two economies, which remain a central artery of the world economy.”

German finance minister Peter Altmaier told the Financial Times: “The US is our ally and it has the right to shape its tax system as it sees fit.“But it must be in compliance with the international rules that are in effect.”

A US Treasury spokesman told the paper: “We appreciate the views of the finance ministers.

“We are closely working with Congress as they finalise the legislation.”

German finance minister Peter AltmaierGETTY

German finance minister Peter Altmaier

Mr Trump wants a single tax bill on his desk soon so he can sign it into law before the end of the year, in what would be his first major legislative achievement since taking office.The White House said he would deliver a speech tomorrow “to the American people on how tax reform will lead to a brighter future for them and their families”.

Mr Trump has made huge promises about the plan, which he sees as a landmark in his presidency.

On Sunday, he tweeted: “Getting closer and closer on the Tax Cut Bill. Shaping up even better than projected.

“House and Senate working very hard and smart. End result will be not only important, but SPECIAL!”

Battles loom in UK over competing Brexit demands — “The Irish circle remains to be squared.”

December 9, 2017


© AFP | British Prime Minister Theresa May’s initial Brexit deal with the EU has been called a “capitulation” by critics and the “mother of all concessions” by anti-Brexiteers.

LONDON (AFP) – Britain could remain closely aligned with the rules of the European Union’s single market under its initial withdrawal deal with Brussels, a move that has critics worried about heading towards a soft Brexit.The deal reached Friday after nearly six months of negotiations detailed the key Brexit issues — Britain’s divorce bill, EU citizens’ rights and the sensitive Northern Ireland border.

If European leaders meeting next week sign off as expected on the 15-page document, which is set to form the basis of any final withdrawal agreement, negotiations can move on to the post-Brexit relationship.

However, the deal’s commitment to maintaining an open Irish border has sparked debate in Britain over whether it offers an unexpected backdoor to closer ties with the European single market than previously envisaged.

London’s Evening Standard newspaper, edited by former finance minister George Osborne, swiftly concluded it “should be welcomed by all those who want a softer Brexit”.

Noting the incompatible demands from Dublin, Belfast and Brexiteers, it added the deal will “kick the can down the road, leaving the contradictions to be confronted later.”

– Red lines –

British Prime Minister Theresa May has insisted Britain will leave Europe’s customs union in order to forge free trade deals around the world — considered a red line for Brexiteers in her Cabinet and Conservative party.

She needs their support — and especially Northern Ireland’s pro-Brexit Democratic Unionist Party members — to remain in power and pass any withdrawal agreement in parliament.

While the deal stipulates that regulations remain consistent across Britain, it also states there will be no return to a hard border between the Republic of Ireland — an EU member state — and Northern Ireland, a British province exiting the bloc with the rest of the United Kingdom.

This was a key demand of Dublin, which threatened to block progress on a Brexit deal without the commitment.

So, in the event of no trade agreement with the EU, Britain committed to “maintain full alignment” with EU market rules which support cooperation on the Irish island under the terms of the 1998 Good Friday peace accord.

It would cover a wide range of areas including agriculture, education, environment, health, tourism and transport.

– ‘Mother of all concessions’ –

Owen Jones, an anti-Brexit columnist for the Guardian, called full alignment “the absolute mother of all concessions.”

“Have hardcore Brexiteers begun to process these words?” he asked.

“Britain is heading for long-term de facto membership of the single market and the customs union, even if we are technically in neither, in order to preserve the Northern Irish peace process,” Jones wrote.

Ian Bond, director of foreign policy at the Centre for European Reform, agreed the full alignment reference was “radical”.

“It’s almost inverted the logic of the no-deal outcome,” he said.

Brexiteers have long argued if Britain leaves the EU without agreeing terms it can fall back on World Trade Organisation rules.

“There are a lot of imponderables. Whether this keeps the knives out of the prime minister’s back is one of the most imponderable of all,” Bond added.

– ‘Capitulation’ –

Pro-Brexit lawmakers have reacted cautiously to the initial deal, with Cabinet members rallying around May for securing prized trade talks.

Leading Brexiteer Michael Gove, the environment secretary, on Saturday praised May’s “tenacity and skill” while reiterating “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.”

He also said voters could reject the deal at the next general election if they dislike it, which was quickly interpreted as a tepid endorsement.

Nigel Farage, hardline UK Independence Party MEP, was among the few lawmakers to speak out harshly, calling the deal a “capitulation” and predicting more Conservatives would come out against it.

“I think what has simply happened is battle has been postponed,” said Anand Menon, professor of European Politics at King’s College London.

He added Brexiteers would not accept continued membership of the single market.

“They have done tactical retreats in this process but that would be a retreat too far,” he said.

This would leave May — if she is still in charge — searching for a seemingly impossible compromise, stuck between soft Brexit and a hard border.

“The Irish circle remains to be squared,” added Menon.

Countries need to foster greater, freer trade to continue to prosper

November 11, 2017

DANANG (VIETNAM) – Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Saturday (Nov 11) reiterated Singapore’s support for the rules-based multilateral trading system.

While acknowledging that the mood towards globalisation is shifting – and there are concerns if the current system is fair and allows all to benefit as they ought to – he said he firmly believes that “we should foster more and freer trade to continue to prosper”.

“In today’s world, no single country can be self-sufficient. Everything from the supply chain to research and development, and economies of scale requires the support of a wider global market,” he said.

Even then, he added, there is still some way from the ideal of fully open trade in the region.

Citing the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which United States President Donald Trump criticised a day earlier for turning a blind eye to unfair trade practices, PM Lee said it was an important forum to build and improve the global framework for trade.

But it takes time to secure a deal among all 164 WTO members, “so we have to explore less comprehensive but more timely measures”, he told the leaders of 20 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) economies at their annual meeting.

At an interview with Singapore media later to wrap up his trip, PM Lee said all countries were in agreement with wanting to promote trade with mutual benefits, but had different views on how this should be done.

A day before, Mr Trump, who abandoned the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal shortly after taking office last year, had declared the US would no longer enter into large agreements.

Speaking right after him, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged support for multilateral trade deals. They were both speaking at an Apec meeting for business leaders.

Asked about this, PM Lee said while the US wants to achieve closer economic integration and cooperation on a reciprocal basis and bilaterally, the other Apec members want to keep to a multilateral framework “which in the view of many of us has benefited all the countries including the US”.

But he said they understood the political pressures and reasons behind the US administration’s stance.

He added that they still hope they will be able to work together with the US, and among likeminded countries like the 11 that have remained in the TPP, in order to advance Apec’s goal of free and open trade in the region.

“It doesn’t mean that there’s a consensus, it doesn’t mean there’s no conflict in perspectives, no tension…there is. But we hope we’ll be able to work through them and maintain the cooperation which has delivered peace, stability and prosperity to many countries for a very long time,” he said.

Earlier, at the leaders’ meeting, PM Lee urged support for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) involving all 10 Asean members and six key partners, including China, Japan and India.

The RCEP, when concluded, can make a significant contribution to economic integration in the region, he said.

He added that the Apec grouping itself was one way of promoting free trade.

PM Lee said the remaining members of the TPP deal were also pushing ahead to bring the pact into force.

“We have reached agreement on the deal and I hope that the details can be worked out and everyone can sign onto it,” he said.

A scheduled meeting on Friday between leaders of the 11 remaining TPP members, including PM Lee, had been postponed after a no-show by Canada.

But on Saturday, trade and foreign ministers 11 countries announced that they have agreed on the “core elements” for the deal.

PM Lee said developments such as China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which includes many Apec and non-Apec member economies, will also promote greater connectivity, infrastructure investment and economic integration.

Noting that Apec has grown from an informal gathering of 12 economies in 1989 to having 21 members today, PM Lee said the grouping has come a long way.

Tariffs in Apec today are a third of what they were when it was founded, and Apec economies represent 60 per cent of global GDP and half of all global trade.

PM Lee commended Vietnam, this year’s Apec chair, for setting up an Apec Vision Group to kick-start the review process of goals for free and open trade, and investment among Apec’s developed and developing economies by 2020, first set in Bogor, Indonesia, in 1994.

He said: “As we approach 2020 for the Bogor goals, it is timely to reflect on the aspirations of APEC for the longer term.”

Trump administration rejects Theresa May’s post-Brexit agriculture deal with EU — One of Theresa May’s key plans for a smooth Brexit

October 7, 2017

Proposal was key part of Prime Minister’s plans for a smooth Brexit

By Lydia Smith

The Independent


The US has objected to a deal between the UK and EU to divide agricultural import quotas, one of Theresa May’s key plans for a smooth Brexit.

British and European negotiators had been working on an agreement to split tariff rate quotas, which would allow some agricultural produce to enter the EU from countries outside of the union.

A preliminary deal was drawn up between London and Brussels over how to split the EU’s existing tariff rate quotas (TRQs) – agreed under the World Trade Organisation – but it was rejected by the US, Canada, New Zealand, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and Thailand in a co-signed letter.

 Image may contain: 1 person, smiling
Brexit talks: European Parliament says sufficient progress not made

The news is setback for the Prime Minister, who presented the deal as a breakthrough for a successful Brexit, particularly as Donald Trump was a proponent of Britain exiting the EU.

The argument put forward for the deal by Britain and the EU is that the rest of the world will not be left “worse off” if the bloc’s quotas are reduced and Britain takes a share of them.

The letter from the objectors states they were not consulted and the deal would disrupt “the delicate balance of concessions and entitlements that is fundamental to the global trade architecture today.”

“We are aware of media reports suggesting the possibility of a bilateral agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union 27 countries about splitting TRQs based on historical averages,” the letter read.

“We would like to record that such an outcome would not be consistent with the principle of leaving other WTO members no worse off, nor fully honour the existing TRQ access commitments.

“Thus, we cannot accept such an agreement.”

New Zealand deputy trade secretary Vangelis Vitalis tweeted other states “have ideas” do not want to have a “solution” imposed on them.

“Sorry that key partners assume a deal they strike between them will suit RoW. Didn’t need to be this way,” he wrote.

The objectors said the deal  say it will indeed leave them “worse off” as a separate quota for Britain would mean exporters could not compensate for low British demand by selling to another EU country, which they currently can.

Don’t expect much from China’s offer to open more sectors of its economy to foreigners

August 19, 2017

The World Trade Organisation is not effective and other international trade initiatives have been heavily politicised, so it is unlikely that Beijing will be leading moves towards any real reform of foreign direct investment

By Jake Van Der Kamp
South China Morning Post

Saturday, August 19, 2017, 11:26pm

… foreign firms operating in China have expressed growing frustration over limited access to markets and government policies that they say discriminate against overseas companies.

SCMP, August 18

You are forgiven if you are puzzled by the initials WTO. Few people any longer have reason to burden their brain cells with the knowledge that this stands for the World Trade Organisation.

The WTO was a fine dream when it was formed 22 years ago as a successor to a talk shop called the GATT Uruguay Round. Diplomats round the world thought GATT Uruguay a big success in breaking down trade barriers and thus formalised it as the WTO.

And then it all stopped. The WTO struggled briefly back into the news in 2001 when China demanded that it be allowed in as this was a big boys club and China had risen to the big boys league, but then things went quiet again.

The move towards a worldwide agreement on loosening trade barriers has failed. The effort now consists only of bilateral agreements between two countries at a time, or as purely political initiatives. Witness the Trans Pacific Partnership, a US scheme to exclude China, and the Belt and Road Initiative, a tit-for-tat China scheme to exclude the US.

The consensus (outside China) is that China carries its share of the blame for the WTO failure as it has failed in practice to meet its WTO obligations.

If this is true, and the charge is not entirely without foundation, it is largely because the mountains are still high and the emperor is still far away.

The will of Beijing tends to be less than perfectly carried out in the provinces, particularly when provincial governments see their own investments at risk from foreigners.

Thus I am not hugely impressed by the latest directives from Beijing that more sections of the economy be opened to foreign investors. Make that work in Kunming first, say I, and then tell us about it again.

What is more, this directive was made in direct response to criticism by US President Donald Trump about unfair trade practices by China. Let’s see the Donald first prove that he has some understanding of the facts here. So far he has done little more than parrot the usual anti-China rant.

The leadership in Beijing has been through this one before with Washington and its usual countermove is a line of talk, followed by a few high profile but not greatly significant concessions. We have the line of talk now. What ho the concessions?

I also have the evidence of the chart. Foreign direct investment into China has declined steadily over the last 10 years as a percentage of China’s gross domestic product. But if this is an offence, what do we make of Japan’s comparable anti-foreign investment stance. Has the Donald mouthed any rants at Japan?

In fact, only over the last two years have the equivalent figures for US FDI inflows been any higher than China’s. Just who keeps foreigners out then?

Of course, what we may have in these FDI inflows to China is nothing more than laundered mainland money taken out and funnelled back in so that it can appear as foreign when it so wishes. But, hush, hush, hush. Hong Kong is the laundry shop.

With the WTO dead, however, and other international trade initiatives heavily politicised, I cannot see Beijing leading the move towards any real reform.

For the moment, call it talk.

Donald Trump sends tough signal to China on unfair IP, tech practices

August 15, 2017

WASHINGTON – The United States in effect served notice on China on Monday (Aug 14) by opening an investigation into unfair trade practices focused on intellectual property (IP) and advanced technology.

But punitive action is still about a year away, and conclusions may also depend on the outcomes of the current international pressure campaign on North Korea led by the US, but in which China has a key role as the Pyongyang regime’s economic lifeline.

While the US administration has not linked trade issues with progress on North Korea, the President has explicitly linked the two. China insists that any action on trade must conform to World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, and must not be linked to North Korea, where it says Beijing’s influence is limited.

Mr Trump’s memo directs US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to determine whether to launch an investigation – which in turn could give the President authority to take measures under Section 301 of its Trade Act, against China if it finds that country is damaging American interests by stealing IP or unfairly forcing transfer of technology.

For the US, this has long been a major bone of contention with China. A 2017 report of the US’s IP Commission on “The Theft of American Intellectual Property” estimated that in 2015 “anywhere from US$58 billion to US$118 billion of counterfeit and pirated tangible goods may have entered the United States.”

Yet the US business community is not entirely united, analysts say.

“Some see the potential for retaliation the Chinese could take against their commercial or market access issues wholly unrelated to IP” Amy Celico, a former senior director for China at the USTR and currently head of the China team at the consultancy Albright Stonebridge Group, told The Straits Times.

“But other industries feel they are facing an existential threat to their ability to operate in the Chinese market and they agree that something has to happen, the administration has to stand up to China on unfair trade practices.”

Mr Trump told journalists at a brief event where he signed the memo “Washington will turn a blind eye no longer.”

“I’m directing the United States Trade Representative to examine China’s policies, practices, and actions with regard to the forced transfers of American technology and the theft of American intellectual property.”

“We will stand up to any country that unlawfully forces American companies to transfer their valuable technology as a condition of market access. We will combat the counterfeiting and piracy that destroys American jobs, we will enforce the rules of fair and reciprocal trade that form the foundation of responsible commerce” he said.

Left unsaid was the question of North Korea. The US has been pressing Beijing which accounts for some 90 per cent of North Korea’s trade, to pull the plug on Pyongyang to force the regime to stop its nuclear missile programme.

On August 11 Mr Trump said “We lose hundreds of billions of dollars a year on trade with China. They know how I feel. It’s not going to continue like that but if China helps us, I feel a lot differently toward trade.”

“Certainly it seems the administration is trying to use every possible tool in dealing with this critical issue of North Korea” Ms Celico said in a phone interview.

“The Chinese have come out quite forcefully as they see it as a stick the administration is using to get China to be more aggressive in dealing with North Korea, and they are disavowing any kind of linkage as destabilising for the bilateral relationship.”

“The problem for President Trump is he’s the one who linked these two issues. Looking into launching an investigation rather than launching an investigation, would seem to be responsive to Chinese pressure.”

Ms Yun Sun, a Fellow at the Stimson Centre in Washington, told The Straits Times: “It’s an investigation at this stage, it could take a year.”

“With the Party Congress coming up President Xi Jinping does not want any major instability in foreign affairs. Also, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump are supposed to visit China to pave the way for President Trump’s visit.”

“I think the Chinese will appear to be angry but I don’t see any substantive retaliation on trade” she said.

Qatar tactics seen as failure as crisis enters third month

August 6, 2017

Instead of addressing Quartet concerns, Doha chose instead to protest against the boycott at international organisations

Image Credit: REUTERS
A man walks on the corniche in Doha, Qatar.
Published: 17:23 August 6, 2017Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The Qatari crisis has entered its third month, but the boycott of Doha imposed by the Arab quartet is set to continue because the Qatari regime fails to comply with their 13 demands and broader UN principles to combat terrorism and stop interference in other countries’ affairs, analysts say.

Although they are ready for talks with Doha, the Arab quartet is fully prepared to confront Qatari intrasigience for the long haul. The situation seems to be heading for a protracted crisis.

The four countries have expressed they are ready for dialogue with Qatar if it declares its “sincere willingness” to stop funding terrorism and extremism, halt interference in other countries’ foreign affairs, and respond to the 13 demands.

On June 5, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed their diplomatic relations with Qatar and closed their airspace and ports to Qatar-registered planes and ships over accusations it was supporting terrorist and extremist groups.

Instead of seriously addressing concerns of the Arab quartet and thus returning to the GCC fold, Doha opted to manoeuvre by protesting against the boycott at international organisations.

First by claiming the quartet’s move was a “blockade”. But the Arab quartet refuted Doha’s claims that a “blockade” has been imposed on Qatar by GCC countries, arguing that it was a boycott in keeping with international laws and motivated by the need to protect their national security.

Following the Manama meeting, Shaikh Abdulla Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said all measures taken by four states were within the jurisdiction of international law and “essential to deter the scourge of terrorism which affected stability of other countries.”

Earlier, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir said in Washington after a meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson there is no blockade of Qatar.

“The ports are open, the airports are open … What we have done is we have denied them use of our airspace, and this is our sovereign right. The limitation on the use of Saudi airspace is only limited to Qatar Airways or Qatari-owned aircraft, not anybody else … Qatar’s seaports were open,” Al Jubeir said.

In another failed attempt to politicise the Haj pilgrimage, Qatar accused Saudi Arabia of stopping its citizens from attending the Haj, a false claim that Riyadh called a “declaration of war”.

Qatar took its complaint to the UN special rapporteur, prompting an angry response from the Saudi Foreign Minister.

Despite the deepening row, Saudi Arabia says Qataris are welcome to attend the Haj, which is due to begin this month.

Qatar has also claimed the boycotting countries were in violation of the air travel treaty because they blocked Qatari flights from their airspace, a charge negated by the UN’s aviation authority, the International Civil Aviation Authority.

Saudi Arabia has also provided emergency corridors for Qatar through their airspace.

Desperate to lift the boycott, Qatar also launched a legal process at the World Trade Organisation, requesting consultations with the three Gulf countries and triggering a 60-day deadline for them to settle the complaint or face litigation at the WTO and potential retaliatory trade sanctions.

The wide-ranging legal complaint at the Geneva-based body is set to fail as the economic sanctions imposed on Qatar by the three fellow Gulf states do not violate WTO agreements, the Quartet has said.

Qatar has also accused Egypt of misusing its position on the UN Security Council, but Cairo denied the allegation in a letter to the council on Thursday, and accused Qatar of supporting terrorist groups financially and ideologically in Syria, Iraq and Libya.

Dr. Ayman Salama, a member of the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs and professor of international law at Cairo University, believes the boycott and the economic sanctions by the Arab quartet is completely legal that cannot be challenged, especially as Qatar has repeatedly undermined their national security.

“The measures taken by the Arab quartet are sovereign steps to protect the security and the safety of their countries,” Dr Salama told Gulf News.

Qatar’s public relations campaigns have also been dismal failures in making the right impression among Americans, as the Arab News/YouGov poll shows.

Half of respondents said they do not know enough about the Gulf state to pass judgement.

Yet, the next highest response rate — at some 34 per cent — reflects those whom associate Qatar with terror financing.

The poll also shows that most Americans, at 63 per cent, recognise Al Jazeera as a news source, but they do not believe that the network reflects professional journalism standards, which means many Americans do not trust Al Jazeera’s reporting.

UK ‘must prepare a Brexit fallback’ says former Bank of England governor Mervyn King

August 5, 2017

BBC news

Mervyn King

The UK needs a “credible fallback” in case no EU trade deal is reached during Brexit negotiations, former Bank of England governor Mervyn King has said.

Lord King said British negotiators needed to show Brussels the country has an alternative over a bad trade deal post-Brexit.

The former governor, who served between 2003 and 2013, said no deal was “not the first preference of anybody”.

He said the government “probably wasted a year” on its contingency plans.

The first round of Brexit negotiations at the European Commission ended in July.

Brexit Secretary David Davis said Brussels might delay trade talks due to a lack of progress on the cost of the UK’s “divorce” settlement.

Image result for Michel Barnier and david davis photos

David Davis (left) and Michel Barnier — getting nowhere

Brexit: All you need to know

Brexit: What is at stake in EU-UK talks?

The people who will negotiate Brexit

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Lord King said: “We are where we are, and we are in a negotiation and it’s important that the negotiation succeeds.

“But it cannot succeed without a credible fallback position and that is something which I think is a practical thing that the civil service ought to be taking a lead on.”

Previously Prime Minister Theresa May has said: “No deal is better than a bad deal.”

If the UK left the EU without a trade deal with the 27 other nations it would rely on World Trade Organisation rules, and trade agreements between Europe and other countries may not be available to Britain.

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Households have cut spending since Brexit, says Bank of England’s Mark Carney

On Thursday current governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney announced that uncertainty over Brexit was reducing growth in the British economy.

As a result the bank lowered this year’s growth forecast from 1.9% to 1.7%.

Mr Carney said: “Uncertainties about the [UK’s] eventual relationship [with Europe] are weighing on the decisions of some businesses.”

Lord King said: “I don’t know what the economic consequences of Brexit will be, that’s the only honest answer.”

Previously, Brexit minister Steve Baker said the government was preparing for all possible outcomes over Brexit talks, but added a no-deal with Brussels was unlikely.

Includes video: