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UK Business Breeze

Take a glance at the United Kingdom’s business status in the 2018-’19 fiscal year. We decorate this article with that news which generates a huge impression on the UK economy.

Brexit: What Trade Deals Has The UK Done So Far?

As a European Union member, the UK is automatically part of about 40 trade agreements which the EU has with more than 70 countries. If the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 29 March, it would lose these trade deals immediately. To avoid this, Theresa May’s government says it wants to replicate the EU’s trade agreements “as far as possible” and have them ready to go in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The government says the EU’s negotiated deals with other countries are worth about 11% of total UK trade. Liam Fox, the international trade secretary, told MPs in January last year that the government wanted to achieve “continuity and stability” by ensuring that the UK would continue to benefit from these arrangements.

So how much progress has been made?

Seven out of 40

The UK has (so far) only agreed to seven “continuity” deals. These are:

  1. Pacific Islands (signed 14 March)

  2. Israel (18 February)

  3. Palestinian Authority (18 February)

  4. Switzerland (11 February)

  5. The Faroe Islands (1 February)

  6. Eastern and Southern Africa (31 January)

  7. Chile (30 January)

The agreements vary in scope but they include relaxing certain rules, reducing taxes (tariffs) on imports and exports, or granting easier market access.

On 21 February, the government released a statement saying it would not be able to replicate the EU’s free trade deals with Japan by 29 March. Other agreements that won’t be ready on Brexit day, according to the statement, are Turkey, Andorra and San Marino.

British Manufacturing Suffering Biggest Skilled Worker Shortage in 30 Years

UK firms are being squeezed by the biggest labor shortage in 30 years, which is being driven by a combination of record employment, the impending Brexit vote, a weaker pound and the government’s pledge to cut EU immigration after Brexit.

A survey of more than 6,000 employers across the country by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) found more than four-fifths (81%) of manufacturers struggled to hire the right staff in the final months of 2018.

Amid signs the UK could be facing a full-blown labor crisis, Adam Marshall, the director general of the BCC, said: “Business concerns about the government’s recent blueprint for future immigration rules must be taken seriously – and companies must be able to access skills at all levels without heavy costs or bureaucracy.” The crisis is also not constrained to manufacturing with the UK service sector, which includes banks, hotels, and restaurants and accounts for about four-fifths of the economy, also reporting weaker domestic sales.

British Music Retailer HMV Receives Last-minute Offer From Canada’s Sunrise Records

British music retailer HMV has received a last-minute offer from Canada’s Sunrise Records to rescue the business from the administration, the Financial Times reported HMV’s creditors welcomed the offer, the report said, citing two sources familiar with the talks. It did not provide further financial details of the offer.

Sky News reported last month that billionaire Mike Ashley, who controls British sportswear retailer Sports Direct International Plc, was in talks to rescue HMV from the administration. HMV said in December that it was calling in administrators, blaming a worsening market for entertainment CDs and DVDs, to become the latest victim of brutal trading conditions in Britain’s retail sector. Sunrise Records, a music retailer, and HMV could not immediately be reached for comment.

Major UK Firms To Microchip Employees

British companies are planning to microchip employees in a bid to boost security and stop those accessing sensitive areas. Biohax, a Swedish company that provides human chip implants, told The Daily Telegraph that it is in talks with a number of major UK legal and financial firms – some of which have “hundreds of thousands” of employees – to implant staff with the devices. The microchips are about the size of a grain of salt and use the same near field communication (NFC) technology as contactless bank cards.

Biohax founder Jowan Österlund said that as well as boosting security, the chips can be used to help staff speed up their daily routines, by making it easier and quicker to get into buildings and access printers, for example, or even to buy food in the canteen. “In a company with 200,000 employees, you can offer this as an opt-in. If you have a 15% uptake, that is still a huge number of people that won’t require a physical ID pass,” the former body piercer said.

Britain’s ‘Big Four’ Accounting Firms Face Major Shake-up

The UK’s ‘Big Four’ accountancy firms could be divided up under radical proposals aimed at boosting competition, tackling conflicts of interest and tightening oversight. EY, Deloitte, KPMG, and PwC, currently check the accounts of 341 of the top 350 listed companies in Britain. At the same time, they offer consultancy services to these firms, prompting questions of impartiality.

In a bid to reduce their hold on the market for auditing companies, The Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) has called for FTSE 350 firms to have their books looked at by more than one auditor, one of which would have to be from outside the Big Four.

The CMA says this would allow smaller rivals to gain experience and credibility and ensure a “cross-check on quality” at the same time. While the regulator stopped short of calling for a break-up of the Big Four it did propose putting their audit and advisory services into separate operating entities with distinct management, accounts, and remuneration.

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