The trade agreement being negotiated between the EU and Canada, CETA, was effectively blocked by a Belgian regional government but yesterday a compromise was reached. The agreement runs to 1,600 pages and is a complex, comprehensive economic and trade agreement that demonstrates how difficult it will be for the UK to negotiate a trade agreement with the EU in the event of Brexit. Free trade with Europe will be by lengthy negotiation, if at all. Do we need free trade with Europe? Some controls on imports such as requiring goods to be of a standard that supports sustainability might be a good idea. Many goods imported into France need to have a 2-year warranty rather than the usual one year. Isn’t that a good thing?
This week we seem to be seeing a change direction for the government. Teresa May, was by any standards impressive when she made her speech to the party conference. She did, however, praise the record of the Cameron government and still seems a little out of touch. The pound crashed this week down to 1.2454 this morning. She hasn’t got a vote of confidence from the market.
There’s a lot of speculation in the financial press about when or if interest rates will rise. The Bank of England issued ‘forward guidance’ that suggested that rates might be increased when the figure for unemployment is down to 7% and it’s close to that now. These figures are ‘seasonally adjusted, so spring could change that figure and the forward guidance is just that; guidance, not a certainty.