UK export agency needs more transparency, campaigners say

Anti-corruption campaigners have called on the British government’s export finance agency to increase transparency on its anti-corruption measures as it seeks to boost UK trade in the wake of Brexit and the pandemic.

In a report due to be published on Monday, the UK campaign group Spotlight on Corruption also questioned the growing trend of UK Export Finance to provide backing to British subsidiaries of foreign companies, some of which appear to have little economic activity in Britain.

The agency, which works alongside the Department for International Trade, provides support for companies, the vast majority of which are small and medium-sized enterprises that need loans, insurance policies or bank guarantees for export activities.

According to its annual report published in late June, it gave support worth £4.4bn to 339 companies in the past year. UKEF’s direct lending facility — under which it provides loans to overseas buyers of UK goods

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Soaring saving rates pose policy dilemma for world’s central bankers

Households across the world have been saving up since the coronavirus pandemic hit the global economy, but their cash stash poses a dilemma for policymakers as they try to gauge the amount of stimulus needed to fuel a return to growth.

It is not clear whether the money represents pent-up consumer demand that is itching to be spent as lockdowns are lifted, known as involuntary saving, or a safety net put aside by households to insure against uncertain times ahead, referred to as precautionary saving. 

If consumers rush back to the shops, extra government stimulus threatens to generate too much spending and inflation; but if they continue to hoard their incomes, too little stimulus threatens a vicious circle of weak expenditure, slower recovery and higher unemployment.

The two trends are not mutually exclusive — the likeliest outcome is a bit of both — but the dilemma about which will be

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The UK should bar Huawei from its 5G network

The writer is a former chief of MI6

The last six months have revealed more about China under President Xi Jinping than the previous six years. China is overplaying its hand and giving western leaders no option but to stand up to it. Combined with the tough US sanctions imposed on Chinese companies, Beijing’s actions have also shifted the parameters on Huawei’s potential involvement in British telecoms. 

In January, I thought the UK had found a reasonable balance in limiting Huawei’s role in Britain’s 5G network, while not excluding it entirely. Huawei equipment was thoroughly checked by a testing facility under the control of UK intelligence services. Huawei’s use of reliable suppliers, such as the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, for crucial components also meant we could assure its supply chain.

The Trump administration’s motives for trying to destroy Huawei can be debated. But the latest US sanctions, at the end

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Brexit shutout looms for UK funds as market access talks falter

The risk of UK funds being frozen out of the European market at the end of the year has risen after Brexit negotiators missed a key milestone aimed at securing market access for the City of London.

The EU and the UK failed to meet their June 30 deadline for completing assessments of each other’s regulatory regimes for financial services, a prerequisite for allowing mutual market access post-Brexit.

The missed deadline in the so-called “equivalence” regime has sparked fears of prolonged uncertainty and disruption for Britain’s £9tn asset management sector at a time when groups are already grappling with the fallout from the coronavirus crisis.

Patrick Thomson, chief executive of JPMorgan Asset Management’s business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said a no-deal Brexit would create “more complexity” for fund companies. That scenario has become more likely as a result of the UK’s decision not exercise the option to

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