UK GDP growth beats expectations as Nissan reiterates commitment to Sunderland plant

Preliminary data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) yesterday showed that the UK’s GDP grew by 0.5% in the third quarter of 2016. This beat the latest consensus forecast of 0.3%, and the -0.1% predicted by the Treasury before the referendum in the event of a vote to leave the EU. Reacting to the figures, UK Chancellor Philip Hammond said, “I think it is right that we still prepare to support the economy during the coming period to make sure that we get through this period of uncertainty. All the forecasters suggest that next year will be slower.”

Separately, Japanese carmaker Nissan yesterday confirmed that it will build both the new Qashqai and the X-Trail SUV at its plant in Sunderland. Announcing the decision, Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn thanked the UK Government for its “support and assurances.” Downing Street declined to comment on what specific pledges had been made to the company. However, Colin Lawther, a senior executive at Nissan, dismissed suggestions of a special deal, telling the BBC, “It’s just a commitment from the government to work with the whole of the automotive industry to make sure the whole automotive industry in the UK remains competitive.”

EU-Canada trade deal on course for approval as Wallonia agrees to support the deal

Belgium’s federal government has reached an agreement with the region of Wallonia to approve the EU-Canada trade deal. Speaking at a press conference, the Belgian Prime Minister, Charles Michel, said, “I am pleased to announce that the consultative committee has just reached an agreement on the texts outlining Belgium’s proposal. This document was immediately sent to the European Commission and the President of the [European] Council.” As part of the Belgian agreement, this text must be formally approved by the nation’s regional parliamentary assemblies “before midnight on Friday.” Council President Donald Tusk said, “Only once all procedures are finalised for EU signing of CETA will I contact Justin Trudeau [the Canadian Prime Minister].”

Speaking about yesterday’s breakthrough, the Minister-President for Wallonia, Paul Magnette, said, “Wallonia is very happy that we have made our demands heard. We have always fought for treaties that reinforce social norms, environmental norms and that protect public services – for there to be no private arbitration, but only public jurisdiction, that offers all necessary judicial guarantees. All of which, from now on, shall be recognised.” The Canadian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Stéphane Dion, said he was “cautiously optimistic” about the agreement, adding, “If this goes ahead, it is great news.” Meanwhile, The Daily Telegraph notes that the CETA deal will require ratification by the Bundesrat, the upper house of the German Parliament, and quotes Open Europe’s Stephen Both as saying: “The current arithmetic in the Bundesrat is complicated and the governing coalition has no majority.”

Separately, noted Leave Campaigner and former Foreign Secretary Lord Owen has said, “The UK has to be able to start negotiating international trade agreements before exit. This is a non-negotiable issue. So is the UK having full World Trade Organisation membership in our own right… Under any of the options for negotiating we must have these safeguards, or we otherwise face being pushed off a cliff edge after waiting for an EU decision in 2018-9, which might prove to be unacceptable.”

Source: La Libre Le Soir The Daily Telegraph The Financial Times L’Echo The Press Association

Aberdeen Asset Management boss says industry can cope with loss of EU passport

Martin Gilbert, CEO of Aberdeen Asset Management, told Bloomberg TV in an interview, “I’d be more concerned [about losing the EU financial services passport] if I was a bank than an asset manager. Asset managers I think we can take it probably okay, because we run our funds out of Luxembourg. But for banks it’s more serious. It’s still early days, so we don’t know what’s going to happen. We all think that logic will dictate in the end, but politics will make it tough for banks.”

He went on to explain, “In asset management, [the passport] would be selling funds from London into Europe. But there’s very few asset managers actually doing that…We would sell UK funds into the UK and Luxembourg funds into Europe.”

Meanwhile, The Economist cites Open Europe’s recent study unpicking the value of the passport – which allows UK-headquartered financial firms to provide their services across the EU – and assessing possible alternative arrangements post-Brexit.

Source: Open Europe Intelligence Bloomberg The Economist

Second referendum proposal ruled out by Swiss government

A proposal to nullify the 2014 Swiss referendum vote to control immigration and hold a second referendum has been rejected by the government in Switzerland. The Swiss Federal Council stated on Wednesday, “The Federal Council agrees with the proponents of the initiative that Switzerland needs stable and beneficial relations with the EU and that maintaining the bilateral agreements is essential… However, it is opposed, for reasons related to the function of democracy, to the idea that the country go back on the result of a popular vote after such a short space of time.” The proposal, which cites “unpredictable and unacceptable consequences” of the first referendum, aims “to preserve bilateral treaties with the European Union, including the free movement of people.”

Source: Swiss Federal Council The Local

Deadline for Dutch decision on EU-Ukraine Treaty today

Today, Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, is due to announce whether he has found enough support from opposition in the Dutch Senate to ratify the EU-Ukraine Treaty, which the Dutch people rejected in a non-binding referendum in April over concerns about military cooperation. On a visit to the Netherlands, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin warned of the consequences should the deal fail, saying “Ukrainians gave their life for the dream of progress.”

Source: Elsevier Volkskrant Politico

Mundell: UK seeks bespoke deal to “maximise involvement” in EU single market

Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell, told the Scottish Parliament’s Europe committee, “If we are leaving the EU, we are leaving the single market.” He pointed out that the UK would seek a “bespoke deal” in order to “maximise involvement” with the EU single market. He also said that it was “absolutely wrong” to suggest individual areas or industries could secure separate deals, but conceded that there could be “differential” arrangements within the single UK deal for some sectors, such as the financial services industry.

Source: BBC Reuters

Easyjet urges “bespoke agreement” on EU-UK airspace

Sophie Dekkers, UK Director for Easyjet, said to the House of Lords’ EU Internal Market Sub-Committee, “The risk of reduced access [between the EU and the UK] is a technical problem, but I think it will be solved because it’s in the interest of both parties… We would actually urge that aviation is looked at as a separate entity outside of the trade agreements… It’s not an import or export, it’s an enabler.” She also said, “There does need to be a bespoke agreement to establish that connection… It’s not covered by the WTO so we don’t have a backup.”

Source: Parliament TV The Belfast Telegraph The Press Association

French Ambassador: our citizens in the UK “feel less welcome” after the Brexit vote

Le Monde reports the appearance of Sylvie Bermann, the French Ambassador to London, before the House of Lords’ EU Justice Sub-Committee, where she said, “Some [French nationals] felt like Londoners before the 23rd of June, and today they feel like foreigners. They think they are less welcome than before… Some have been subjected to negative or aggressive language. They are not used to this kind of treatment in a country many have called home for decades, a country they think is a success story for dynamism and tolerance of others.”

Source: Le Monde

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