policy

More road taxes?

Yesterday Congress approved the first Law against Climate Change in Spain with which it seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 23%, promote clean energy and decarbonize the economy. However, Spain falls short when it comes to collecting environmen…

This week’s Bromsgrove and Droitwich Standard letters……

Jersey and Guernsey should be applauded for French fishermen stance

WE NEED shed no tears for the French fishermen claiming that they can’t survive under the proposed new regulations, and they will need to do what our fishermen were forced to do in the 1970s, when Edward Heath ceded the nation’s sovereignty to the EU/Common Market.

He personally agreed to our compliance with their CFP Common Fisheries Policy (never discussed by Parliament), wreaking economic havoc in Grimsby, Whitby, Lowestoft, Peterhead, Brixham, and dozens of smaller fishing communities.

It required thousands to seek alternative employment.

It was a monumental betrayal, and even the ‘party of the working class’ has ignored their plight for nigh on 50 years.

Today the subject is studiously avoided by the media, remainers and Westminster, so we should applaud Jersey, Guernsey et al for putting it centre stage.

Peter McHugh

Alvechurch

Freedom passports for UK pubs and shops will countinue rights erosion

LAST year the Prime Minister introduced bills that would remove many people’s rights, freedoms and civil liberties.

Since then the economy has been on its knees, small businesses ruined, hospitality killed and billions of pounds spent.

We have had restrictions on hugging friends and family and loved ones who live in different houses.

Billions have been spent on test and trace and people told to wear masks and we have been locked down on several occasions.

Children have been told to wear masks in lessons and had to have tests shoved up their noses twice a week.

According to the figures there are now hardly any deaths in the UK yet the idea of freedom passports are still being mooted for people to get into pubs, shops and other venues.

Surely with so many of people’s rights, freedoms and civil liberties eroded, if we are going to get back to normal, those civil liberties need to be returned – and returned without the condition of so-called ‘freedom passports’.

Phil Haynes

Catshill

Appreciative and humbled by Droitwich electorate

WE ARE humbled and appreciative of all the generous support during the recent election.

Working together, we will fight for Droitwich and look to ensure we get investment and support.

We have a terrific heritage offer to champion and we must see the investment we need to support our growing population with suitable infrastructure.

Coun Richard Morris

Coun Bob Brookes

Worcestershire County Council

More help needed to stop children being exploited and abused

ACROSS the country, thousands of children and young people are subjected to horrific exploitation and abuse every year.

They are groomed by predators with offers of friendship, gifts, cash and status then coerced using terrifying threats and violence into crimes like trafficking drugs in ‘county lines’ operations. Children are also exploited for sex and some are forced to work in premises like car washes and nail bars.

In the West Midlands in 2019/20, gangs were identified as a risk 1,650 times in assessments of children referred to social services, while trafficking was deemed to be a factor on 460 occasions, both indicators of child criminal exploitation.

Risks of child sexual exploitation were highlighted in 2,040 assessments and in 1,990 instances, children going missing, also a sign of exploitation, was pinpointed as a factor.

Many children are too scared to tell adults what is happening.

That’s why we need your help. During the week from Monday, May 17, The Children’s Society is running a ‘Look Closer’ Awareness Week with the National County Lines Coordination Centre and police forces across the country including British Transport Police.

Our ongoing #Look Closer campaign urges everyone – from commuters and delivery drivers to hotel and shop staff – to look out for signs of child exploitation in public spaces and their neighbourhood and report any concerns.

Signs could include children carrying large amounts of cash, appearing under the control of others, looking lost, or travelling alone at night.

Trauma may lead to children appearing angry or aggressive rather than vulnerable or upset as people might expect – so look beyond the obvious.

Anyone worried about a child can call police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

If there is an immediate risk to a child dial 999. If you are on a train text British Transport Police on 61016

You may not be sure about your concerns, but trust your instincts.

Your phone call could be a crucial first step in helping a child escape a situation of terrible abuse and unimaginable trauma.

Mark Russell

Chief Executive

The Children’s Society

Will you be making Summer Vegan Pledge this June?

THIS June Animal Aid will once again be hosting our Summer Vegan Pledge.

The Summer Vegan Pledge is the perfect opportunity for those who are interested in trying a plant-based diet to do so.

The production of animal products, such as meat and dairy, is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, water pollution, land use and fresh water.

Those who sign up to the Summer Vegan Pledge will have access to all of the information they need to go vegan.

Sign up for free at: animalaid.org.uk/SVP21[1]

T Bradbury,

Animal Aid

ALTHOUGH many telephone boxes will probably have not been used for years, their ornate appearance – particularly traditional red kiosks – definitely adds something to the landscape which is why communities taking them over makes sense.

As well as ‘providing the best of both worlds’, Farrah McNutt’s vision for the ‘Digital Safety Pods’ – which will be piloted in Rubery – could also be life-saving.

So anyone out there who can support this project, please come forward and help make a difference.

What pressing issues do you feel need addressing in Droitwich and Bromsgrove? Send us your views to editor@droitwichstandard.co.uk[2]

References

  1. ^ animalaid.org.uk/SVP21 (animalaid.org.uk)
  2. ^ editor@droitwichstandard.co.uk (droitwichstandard.co.uk)

Has the UK really broken the EU trade deal in Jersey?

The Royal Navy ships may be back at base, but Jersey’s fishing row is far from over. Last week’s ‘war of the whelks’ – caused by Jersey’s decision to limit the access of French vessels in the island’s waters – evoked a volatile response from France and instigated blockaded ports and threats to the island’s power. Jersey’s fishermen called it “close to an act of war”.

Tensions were eased this week by Jersey’s decision to postpone its new licensing rules until July, but the issue will not subside. Former EU negotiator Michel Barnier accused the UK government this week of behaving like “buccaneers” by failing to honour the UK-EU trade deal.

“We must clearly tell the British it cannot work like this otherwise there will be serious consequences on the deal in general,” he told the France 5 network. The accusations are strong yet, so far, the supporting evidence is scant. So has the deal been breached? And what’s really going on in Jersey?

Jersey may seem an unlikely location for battleships and blockades. Fish stocks in the North Sea and off Scotland are economically more significant.

France’s minister of the sea, Annick Girardin, insists the small Channel Island matters because the UK government is using red tape to limit French fishing vessels. “If we accept it in Jersey, it is dangerous for our access everywhere,” she told the French Assembly.

Like Barnier, Girardin has sought to link the row over Jersey’s fishing access to broader post-Brexit tensions with the UK. When it comes to fishing, however, Jersey and the UK are really rather different.

Granville Bay Agreement

For centuries, Jersey’s fishing rights have been determined by bilateral deals with France, separate to UK control and the EU’s common fisheries policy. Fishermen on the water today have only ever known the Granville Bay Agreement, a deal first signed in 1839 and of significant benefit to French fleets.

Under the agreement, French vessels received 75% of all licences for Jersey waters in 2019 – 364 licences, compared with 127 for Jersey boats. It also enabled French authorities to license their own vessels regardless of any objection from Jersey officials. Unsurprisingly, this provoked feelings of rancour in Jersey and resulted in overfishing of stocks. However, the treaty has now been superseded by Jersey signing up to the UK-EU trade deal and the French are understandably commiserating its loss.

“The French haven’t got their heads around the fact Jersey now has the right to manage its own fisheries,” says Don Thompson, chairman of the Jersey Fishermen’s Association.

“The French haven’t got their heads around the fact Jersey now has the right to manage its own fisheries” 

It has put France in a position, perhaps familiar to the UK, of wanting to change a deal it signed just a few months ago. Girardin told French fishermen this week she was looking to reactivate the Granville Bay treaty, though “at present, Jersey refuses”. She continued: “It is in our interest to get ready for battle immediately. The fight has only just begun.”

Jersey officials maintain that French vessels will still be granted permits so long as they demonstrate a proven history of operating within the island’s seas. And while France argues many of its boats don’t have the necessary GPS to prove this, “Jersey is bang within its rights to do what it’s done” says one fishing expert. “Just like Britain and its shellfish exports, it was quite clear in the agreement what was going to happen. Did the French read it?”

So what happens now? Both sides stand accused of leveraging the row to bolster their political agendas – Boris Johnson using ‘gunboat diplomacy’ as a distraction from other broken fish promises, French officials looking to land political points ahead of a key election this year.

“Jersey is a storm in a teacup,” says the expert. True, perhaps, but it’s one set to rage on.

Creating a circular economy: Made in Britain’s sustainable Green Growth Programme – The Manufacturer

John Pearce, CEO of Made in Britain, explores the notion of the circular economy and the reality for SME and larger manufacturers, and highlights the Green Growth Programme, designed to help create a more resilient and sustainable manufacturing sector.

The UK has one of the highest circular economy scores in Europe*, but what are the key metrics and which businesses are impacting them? Where is this already happening and, crucially, what are the economic benefits to creating a ‘regenerative’ business model?

Moving on from a linear industrial model

In theory, the circular economy is simple – keep as much product, and therefore value, in the economy as possible by recycling and reusing products that will otherwise reach their usable life span. All manufacturers are reliant on raw materials, which are becoming increasingly scarce. Coupled with this the idea that businesses can keep using and wasting materials is fast becoming outdated.

“Businesses must look beyond the current ‘take- make-waste’ model and focus on interconnected circular systems that aim to redefine growth and eliminate waste. This means gradually decoupling economic activity from the consumption of finite resources and ultimately designing waste out of the system.” Ellen McArthur Foundation

As the leading circular think tank, Ellen McArthur Foundation, points out businesses must look beyond the current ‘take-make-waste’ model and focus on interconnected circular systems that aim to redefine growth and eliminate waste. This means gradually decoupling economic activity from the consumption of finite resources and ultimately designing waste out of the system.

Circular economy comes into the limelight

Such is the increasing profile of the circular economy that last year the European Commission (EC) launched a circular economy action plan to embed the principles into manufacturing. As a result, the EC’s Sustainable Product Policy Framework proposal, part of the European Green Deal, will empower consumers and encourage manufacturers to deliver on circularity. It claims that the EU’s 2050 climate targets cannot be achieved without fully transitioning.


UPSO bags from Carradice of Nelson are made from upcycled lorry tarp, seatbelt and fire hose material otherwise destined for landfill. On foot or on two wheels, each UPSO bag customer is guaranteed a unique bag that will last for years. Image: Carradice of Nelson.


An impossible challenge?

Not for British SME and larger manufacturers. Achieving a circular economy is possible, but it
comes with a long list of challenges, the first being awareness. Unlike many other sectors, manufacturers cannot ignore resource scarcity. Some are already taking action, appreciating that raw material is critical to producing goods.

Businesses are already working together to move from ‘production lines’ to ‘circular systems’ that guarantee every energy and material input and output is used efficiently or upcycled into another production cycle. These are the new ‘regenerative’ manufacturers and they are already operating in the UK.

Huge collaborative shift needed for change

Companies like Aquapak are certain that circularity is gaining traction, but it will take a huge cultural shift to have a significant impact – and no one doubts the urgency of action that is needed.

This fully dissolvable infection control laundry bag for infected linen is helping Birmingham-based Aquapak tackle the challenges of circularity by utilising biodegradable Hydropol instead of plastic. Image: Aquapak

Manufacturers are already having frank discussions around the costs and benefits of circular models. The key part of the phrase ‘circular economy’ for manufacturers and businesses is the word ‘economy’ – keeping materials within the economy and eliminating waste makes sense from a business and financial perspective. But business leaders need to keep up and learn to interact with other sectors, especially the regenerative and waste handling sectors.

A mindset shift is needed as we transition to a fully circular economy. And with the countdown to COP26 (1-12 November, Glasgow) – when climate change targets will be addressed – there’s no better time than now for manufacturers in Britain to lead the world. They must embrace collaborative thinking to make a circular economy that works and makes sense for everyone.

Who’s embracing circularity?

Made in Britain is focused on creating a more resilient, sustainable and productive manufacturing sector. As a result, it has developed the UK’s first universal Green Growth Programme, in partnership with Cambridge Judge Business School, to reveal progress on sustainability.

Amongst the SMEs that are embracing the circular model is Telford-based Craemer, a leading wheelie bin manufacturer. Craemer demonstrated internal circularity when it minced up the plastic from a Manchester council’s wheelie bins and reused it to create newly-designed bins, giving their product an extra 10-15 years of life.

Rather than using the internal circular model, Blackburn-based luxury bag manufacturer, Carradice, became circular almost by accident 53 when it repurposed a stash of old lorry tarpaulins destined for landfill and turned them into bags. Within 18 months, Upso cycling bags launched, with a new customer base. Canvas costs for the regular range were increasing so it was a logical, money savvy business decision, and the SME had the agility to convert the opportunity.


Using a Hydropol[TM] layer inside Form Fill and Seal (FFS) pouches makes it possible to recycle 100% of their paper fibre. Image: Aquapak


Birmingham-based Aquapak is tackling some of the challenges of circularity head on by taking an innovative approach to the complicated issue of plastic recycling. The company uses a polymer called polyvinyl alcohol (PVOH) which, unlike most plastics, goes straight down the drain and biodegrades safely. The company takes PVOH and turns it into a processable pellet called Hydropol, which can be used to make all manner of things recyclable, especially packaging, as part of a circular business model.

More information www.madeinbritain.org[1]

References

  1. ^ www.madeinbritain.org (www.madeinbritain.org)

France Aims to Delay U.K. Finance Firms From EU Access

Bloomberg

U.S. Civil Rights Agency Urged to Recognize Caste Bias

[1]

(Bloomberg Law) — Civil rights advocates are calling on a U.S. agency to recognize that caste discrimination is illegal under existing federal law, an issue growing more prominent as tech companies are hit with litigation by South Asian workers alleging bias based on social status.A dozen groups, including the International Commission on Dalit Rights, pressed the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to acknowledge that the practice of discriminating against historically oppressed South Asian groups is “an urgent contemporary U.S. civil rights and social justice issue,” according to a memo sent to the agency on Monday and obtained by Bloomberg Law.Caste prejudices parallel race bias in the U.S. because both “are social constructs designed to uphold systems of domination, exclusion, injustice, inequality, and discrimination,” the memo says. Advocates for the Dalit population, or the lowest caste in the hierarchical social system, say the mistreatment is more prevalent in workplaces with large populations of South Asian employees, such as in the technology sector.Cisco Systems Inc. last year was sued by a California agency for allegedly discriminating against a Dalit worker because of his caste. That case, brought under state law, remains pending. Apple Inc. is also defending a similar lawsuit, while Microsoft Corp. has said it’s fielded complaints of caste discrimination. Read more: Big Tech Is Importing India’s Caste Legacy to Silicon Valley The EEOC enforces federal workplace anti-discrimination laws, including Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits bias based on race, national origin, and other protected statuses. The groups say those provisions encompass caste discrimination, as well. But very few caste bias allegations have made their way through courts to test whether Title VII or state laws protect against that form of discrimination.“The EEOC’s recognition of the intertwined nature of caste and race is an urgent and crucial step towards promoting human dignity, and ensuring justice, equality and nondiscrimination in the workplace,” the memo states.The EEOC doesn’t have a formal “policy position” on how Title VII may apply to caste discrimination, said Joseph Olivares, an EEOC spokesman, before receiving the memo.Ongoing LitigationCaste discrimination occurs within South Asian communities, with workers at the bottom of the hierarchy experiencing harassment, bullying, and exclusion “in private, public and places of work,” the memo states.“Every day, on a covert basis, many Dalit Americans face discrimination that can be addressed by the American legal system,” the groups said. “All Americans must be treated with dignity and respect at work and in all other aspects of their lives regardless of caste or race, descent and national origin or another protected classification.”American companies, and their human resources departments, are being forced to grapple with these prejudices as they’re imported with workers from other cultures. In the Cisco case, for example, an unnamed Dalit employee identified only as John Doe alleged he faced a hostile work environment, and received less pay and fewer opportunities.“We have zero tolerance for discrimination and take all complaints of unfair treatment very seriously. In this case, we thoroughly and fully investigated the employee’s concerns and found that he was treated fairly, highly compensated, and afforded opportunities to work on coveted projects,” Cisco spokeswoman Robyn Blum said in an email Monday. “If we had found any discrimination or retaliation, we would have remediated it.”Microsoft declined to comment and Apple didn’t respond to a request for comment.Not all groups agree that caste discrimination is prevalent in the U.S.“Caste has no legal, social, or cultural definition in the United States, and is not an observable or objectively determinable trait or characteristic,” said the Hindu American Foundation, a religious advocacy group, in the group’s motion to intervene in the Cisco case. The organization alleges the California employment agency’s lawsuit violates the constitutional rights of Hindu Americans.To contact the reporter on this story: Paige Smith in Washington at psmith@bloomberglaw.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jay-Anne B. Casuga at jcasuga@bloomberglaw.com; Travis Tritten at ttritten@bgov.com(Updated to add comment from Cisco in the twelfth paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

U.K. Trade Claws Its Way Back From Big Brexit Slump

After Britain’s split from the European Union to start the year, things are looking up for post-Brexit U.K. trade. But only barely.

The latest official data show goods exports to the EU rebounded 8.6% in March from a month earlier, while imports from the bloc rose 4.5%.

The figures are explored more fully in Bloomberg’s monthly life-after-Brexit

trade tracker[1]. They underscore how January’s dismal performance — when goods moving in both directions suffered a steep drop — was written off as more of an initial shock than a preview of the divorcees’ future trading relationship.

Still, life on

the rebound[2] always seems better after a big letdown. “January was a massive train wreck,” as U.K. Trade Policy Observatory director Michael Gasiorek put it. “This is still pretty grim.”

The numbers were somewhat skewed by a boost from exports of cars, which rose 36.2% compared with a year earlier.

Gasiorek explained this may be because car manufacturers were “more able to think about rejigging their supply chains” than other suppliers.

Exports of live animals, meat and dairy products, for example, which face the burden of

checks and regulations[3] the EU has put forth, fell 5.8%.

March was a hectic month in trade news, not least because of turmoil ranging from Covid-19 to the container ship wedged across the Suez Canal.

To isolate the Brexit effect, it helps to compare the U.K.’s trade with the EU to that with the

rest of the world[4]: The first quarter was the first since records began in 1997 that non-EU imports outpaced those from the bloc.

This worries Thomas Sampson, associate professor at the London School of Economics. He said overall, the data suggest that “a lot of the bounce-back has now happened and we seem to have stagnated at a substantially lower level than we were pre-January.”

Lizzy Burden[5] in London

Charted Territory

Factory Prices

Year-over-year producer price indexes, by country

Source: Data compiled by Bloomberg

Manufacturers in China have been absorbing some of the rising costs of things like paint, screws, metal and packaging for months, providing a buffer for global inflation. But as Bloomberg’s Enda Curran writes[6], some are now starting to pass on their rising input costs to overseas customers. 

Today’s Must Reads

  • USMCA first

    [7] | The U.S. asked Mexico to review alleged denial of workers’ rights at a General Motors truck plant in central Mexico, the first time Washington is self-initiating a labor dispute under the new trade pact between the countries.

  • Light on fuel
    [8] | Gasoline shortages across the U.S. South are expanding northward as antsy motorists race to fill up with the ongoing shutdown of North America’s largest petroleum pipeline threatening to leave the region without fuel for days. Meanwhile, the Biden administration moved to

    ease the shortages

    [9].

  • Price control
    [10] | The surging cost of commodities to industries and households threatens China’s economic growth and the purchasing power of its citizenry. As prices soar for everything from the copper and steel to coal and corn, Beijing has a number of options, but they’ve been complicated by policies on pollution and imports.
  • Nowhere to hide

    [11] | With lumber prices at all-time highs it would make sense for U.S. homebuilders to be looking for alternative materials to meet demand for new houses. But unless supply chains morph drastically, most buyers will be forced to stomach the costs. Meanwhile, U.S. importers are

    driving competition

    [12] for European wood, and winning.

  • Fish tales
    [13] | Negotiations on access for French fishermen to waters around Jersey will continue after the British island postponed new licensing rules and France lifted a ban on vessels from the Channel Islands landing catches at its ports.
  • Algarve or bust

    [14] | Airline operators in the U.K. were prepared to quickly ramp up flights to popular destinations in Greece and Spain. They got Portugal instead.
  • Not playing games

    [15] | Gigabyte Technology has become the latest international business to face a boycott in China after its comments about shoddy Chinese-made goods prompted an online furor and its removal from e-commerce sites.

On the Bloomberg Terminal

  • Flat screens

    [16] | LCD panel shipment growth will be restricted in 2021 by shortages in key components such as display-driver and power-management chips as well as glass, Bloomberg Intelligence writes.
  • Supply shakeup

    [17] | The U.S. 10-year inflation breakeven rate’s increase a multiyear high could be driven more by a supply shortage rather than strong demand. While inflation got an initial boost from demand recovery following the pandemic, rising product prices may now be fueled by raw-material shortages, capacity limits, and unprecedented supplier delivery delays, Bloomberg Intelligence says.
  • Use the AHOY function to track global commodities trade flows.
  • Click HERE for automated stories about supply chains.
  • See BNEF for BloombergNEF’s analysis of clean energy, advanced transport, digital industry, innovative materials, and commodities.
  • Click VRUS on the terminal for news and data on the coronavirus and here for maps and charts.

Like Supply Lines?

Don’t keep it to yourself. Colleagues and friends can sign up here[18]. We also publish Balance of Power[19], a daily briefing on the latest in global politics.

For even more: Follow @economics[20] on Twitter and subscribe to Bloomberg.com[21] for unlimited access to trusted, data-driven journalism and gain expert analysis from exclusive subscriber-only newsletters.

How are we doing? We want to hear what you think about this newsletter. Let our trade tsar know[22].

— With assistance by Demetrios Pogkas

    References

    1. ^ trade tracker (www.bloomberg.com)
    2. ^ the rebound (www.bloomberg.com)
    3. ^ checks and regulations (www.bloomberg.com)
    4. ^ rest of the world (www.bloomberg.com)
    5. ^ Lizzy Burden (link.mail.bloombergbusiness.com)
    6. ^ Enda Curran writes (link.mail.bloombergbusiness.com)
    7. ^ USMCA first (www.bloomberg.com)
    8. ^ Light on fuel (www.bloomberg.com)
    9. ^ ease the shortages (www.bloomberg.com)
    10. ^ Price control (www.bloomberg.com)
    11. ^ Nowhere to hide (www.bloomberg.com)
    12. ^ driving competition (www.bloomberg.com)
    13. ^ Fish tales (www.bloomberg.com)
    14. ^ Algarve or bust (www.bloomberg.com)
    15. ^ Not playing games (www.bloomberg.com)
    16. ^ Flat screens (www.bloomberg.com)
    17. ^ Supply shakeup (www.bloomberg.com)
    18. ^ sign up here (www.bloomberg.com)
    19. ^ Balance of Power (link.mail.bloombergbusiness.com)
    20. ^ @economics (twitter.com)
    21. ^ subscribe to Bloomberg.com (www.bloomberg.com)
    22. ^ Let our trade tsar know (www.bloomberg.com)

    Mystic Aquarium getting 5 Beluga whales from Canada

    Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut is preparing for the arrival of five Beluga whales from a zoo and amusement park in Canada after navigating approval processes on both sides of the U.S. border and overcoming legal challenges from environmental groups.Gov…

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