UK minister heads to India as post-Brexit trade talks reportedly ramp up – business live | Economics


Key events

Germany suffers steepest drop in business activity since May 2020

The combined drop in German business activity takes the composite PMI reading to 44.7, from July’s 48.5.

Reuters is reporting that this is the steepest decline in business activity for more than three years, since May 2020.

Analysts had been expecting a reading of 48.3.

Meanwhile, the unexpected drop in Germany’s services sector activity is the first in eight months.

It suggests businesses remain pessimistic about the impact that rising interest rate and inflation are having on demand for goods and services.

France, Germany suffer further contraction in services and manufacturing: PMI data

A quick round up of private sector activity data out of Europe:

Germany’s services sector unexpectedly shrank, with the purchasing managers’ index (PMI) showing a reading of 47.3 in August. A reading below 50 indicates contraction,

That is compared to July, when the services sector expanded, with a reading of 52.3. Analysts had been expecting a reading of 51.5.

Germany’s manufacturing sector continued to contract, but at a slower pace, with PMI readings coming in at 39.1 for August, compared to 38.8 in July. However, that is better than the 38.7 predicted by analysts.

Workers at the Neapco plant and car production line, in Germany.
Workers at the Neapco plant and car production line, in Germany. Photograph: Friedemann Vogel/EPA

In France, manufacturing sector activity was less dismal than expected, with flash readings for August coming in at 46.4. While it indicates a contraction, it is better than the 45.1 reading in July and analyst forecasts for 45.

The French services sector contracted further, decreasing to 46.7 in August from 47.1 in July of 2023. Analysts had been expecting a milder contraction of 47.5.

Labour accuses government of “shambolic” delay to border checks

Labour has accused the government of creating “huge uncertainty” for businesses with “absolutely shambolic” post-Brexit border trade plans, PA Media reports.

Vehicles queue for ferries at the Port of Dover, Kent.
Vehicles queue for ferries at the Port of Dover, Kent. Photograph: Gareth Fuller/PA

It comes after reports that ministers are again planning to delay the introduction of border checks on animal and plant products coming from the EU, due to concerns that the extra bureaucracy could push up food prices and fuel further inflation.

Initial checks were due to come into force in October, with physical checks and other requirements to follow throughout 2024.

Shadow international trade minister Gareth Thomas has written to trade secretary Kemi Badenoch, demanding an update on plans and preparation costs:

The government’s handling of this important issue has been absolutely shambolic. They have delayed new border checks time and again, creating huge uncertainty for businesses, who are already struggling as a result of Conservative economic mismanagement.

With the deadlines for new checks just months away, it is unacceptable that businesses have not received a clear update from the government on whether the new border arrangements are even going to be introduced. The Tories’ trade barriers are stunting economic growth.

Labour will turn this around as part of our mission to secure the highest sustained growth in the G7.

The government said it was reflecting on feedback and “will publish the border target operating model shortly.”

Quick prints from European markets.

Gains on major indices are relatively muted, as trading kicks off:

  • FTSE 100 is up 0.15%

  • FTSE 250 is up 0.12%

  • Spain’s IBEX is up 0.1%

  • France’s CAC 40 is up 0.3%

  • Germany’s DAX is up 0.3%

  • The pan-European STOXX 600 is up 0.01%

Introduction: UK-India trade talks reportedly intensify as minister heads to Jaipur

Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of business, the financial markets and the world economy.

We kick off with news that UK trade minister Kemi Badenoch is heading to India today, where she is expected to intensify talks over a post-Brexit trade deal with her local counterparts.

Badenoch is heading to Jaipur, where G20 trade and investment ministers will be gathering for talks on Thursday and Friday. But reports from the FT (£) and BBC suggest that the UK trade minister will use it as an opportunity to try iron out “some quite significant issues” to the trade deal, which – if its successful – would be a significant feather in Tory ministers’ caps post-Brexit

It is hoped that an agreement could slash costly tariffs on UK exports, including cars and whisky. Meanwhile, India is looking for a deal that would help improve access for its own manufactured goods and services, as well as work visas.

However, both news outlets suggest it’s unlikely that a deal will be struck before prime minister Rishi Sunak attends the G20 Summit on 9-10 September in New Delhi, where he is expected to hold talks with his counterpart Narendra Modi.

The UK Department for Business and Trade said in a statement:

The UK and India are committed to working towards the best deal possible for both sides. We’ve made good progress in closing chapters, and are now laser-focused on goods, services and investment.

While we cannot comment on ongoing negotiations, we are clear that we will only sign when we have a deal that is fair, balanced and ultimately in the best interests of the British people and the economy.

Otherwise, we’re expected a swathe of PMI readings from France, Germany, the Eurozone, UK and US, which will give us a sense of how the manufacturing and services industries fared in August.

However, analysts at Investec are not very optimistic:

We suspect that the direction of travel will still be in a downward direction, and importantly, that services are continuing to suffer from the malaise evident in the manufacturing sector

The agenda

  • 8:15am BST: French flash services & manufacturing PMI (Aug)

  • 8:30am BST: German flash services & manufacturing PMI (Aug)

  • 9am BST: Eurozone flash services & manufacturing PMI (Aug)

  • 9:30am BST: UK flash services & manufacturing PMI (Aug)

  • 2:45pm BST: US flash services & manufacturing PMI (Aug)



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