Commercial Awareness Update 1st February 2019

1) BREXIT

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Theresa May is seeking to renegotiate her withdrawal agreement with the EU after it was rejected by MPs this month, and Mr Hunt stressed it would take time to develop fresh proposals and discuss them with the bloc.

The foreign secretary suggested this could mean that not all the relevant Brexit legislation could be approved by MPs by March 29 — the UK’s scheduled departure date from the EU. “If we ended up approving a deal in the days before 29 March, then we might need some extra time to pass critical legislation,” he said.

Jeremy Corbyn says he told Theresa May "don't bring no deal back to Parliament" in their long-awaited face-to-face meeting on Brexit.

The Labour leader said it was "not acceptable" for the PM to keep the no-deal option on the table after MPs voted against it on Tuesday.

After the meeting, Mrs May tweeted: "The only way to avoid No Deal is to vote for a deal."

MPs will vote on the deal again after she seeks to renegotiate with the EU.

Analysis

Nearly one in three British businesses are planning to relocate some of their operations abroad or have already shifted them to cope with a hard Brexit, according to a leading lobby group.

The Institute of Directors (IoD) warned that 29% of firms in a survey of 1,200 members believed Brexit posed a significant risk to their operations in the UK and had either moved part of their businesses abroad already or were planning to do so.

More than one in 10 had already set up operations outside the UK as the prospect of a no-deal Brexit becomes more likely amid Westminster gridlock. Most firms considering a move were looking to open offices inside the European Union, said the IoD, which represents 30,000 firms.

Amidst the uncertainties associated with Brexit, one thing remains for certain:

Regardless of a deal or no-deal agreement, businesses will have to reshape their strategies to cope with the changing economic climate.


2) VENEZUELA CRISIS

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Protests have been held across the country since Mr Maduro began his second term on 10 January. He was elected last year during a controversial vote in which many opposition candidates were barred from running, or jailed.

About three million people have fled Venezuela amid acute economic problems.

Analysis

Much is at stake. Most important is the fate of 32m Venezuelans made wretched by six years under Mr Maduro. Polls suggest that 80% of them are sick of him. Other countries are also hurt by Venezuela’s failure. The region is struggling with the exodus of over 3m of its people fleeing hunger, repression and the socialist dystopia created by the late Hugo Chávez.

Europe and the United States suffer from Venezuela’s pervasive corruption, which enhances its role as a conduit for narcotics. And as world leaders pile in for Mr Maduro or against him, they are battling over an important idea which has lately fallen out of favour: that when a leader pillages his state, oppresses his people and subverts the rule of law, it is everybody’s business.

3) US NUCLEAR ARMS TREATY

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The Trump administration is suspending US participation in a cold war-era nuclear arms control treaty in a last-ditch attempt to put pressure on Russia, which it accuses of violating the 1987 pact.

Secretary of state Mike Pompeo announced on Friday that the US would withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty for 180 days starting from Saturday.

The suspension comes after US and Russian officials failed to bridge their differences during months of negotiations and amid concerns that China is not a signatory.

Analysis

The stand-off over one of the most important cold war arms control pacts has raised fresh worries about an arms race. Russian President Vladimir Putin sparked alarm in December when he said Russia would develop weapons banned under the INF if the US pulled out of the bilateral treaty.

Russian officials said on Friday they feared the US would seek to abandon other arms control deals, and could deploy cruise missiles aimed at Moscow in eastern Europe after the INF withdrawal.

4) APPLE AND FACEBOOK PRIVACY CONCERNS

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Apple has shut down Facebook’s internal apps, including those used to test the social network’s new products and organise employee transportation, in a dramatic escalation of tension between two of the world’s biggest technology companies.

Apple said on Wednesday that it had banned a Facebook app that paid $20 a month to people between 13 and 35-years-old to allow it to collect data from their iPhones, known as Research. It said the app breached its policies.

Analysis

Facebook confirmed that the move by Apple had affected all of its internal apps — not just the controversial Research one.


The ban could slow product development, since Facebook typically tests new features on its own employees before offering them more widely, a process known as “dogfooding”. The move will also hit resource apps that employees use internally for anything from transportation to booking meeting rooms.


The news that Apple has chosen to turn off all of Facebook’s internal apps is the latest in a series of public spats after Apple took a critical stance towards privacy at Facebook in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Usama Kubo,

Commercial Awareness Director