History and understanding During the Brexit negotiations in 2017, the UK & EU agreed that trade negotiation could only start after the UK's withdrawal because such negotiations could not happen when the UK still had a veto capability in the EU. For this and other reasons, a transition period after Brexit day (31 January 2020) was defined to allow those negotiations. The transition period started on the 1st of February 2020 under the withdrawal agreement. The deadline is the 31st December 2020, a deadline which can be extended for two years, although the British government has declared that it will not apply for any such extension. In 2018 the UK conducted 49% of its trade with the EU, 40% with the Rest of World and 11% with countries that have EU trade agreements. Figure 1: UK % of Total Trade 2018 Source: Department for International Trade / BBC https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-47213842 Potential scenarios There are various types of deal frameworks available in these negotiations, with the UK said to favour a Canada style arrangement called the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). CETA provisionally came into force between the EU and Canada in 2017, this is a free-trade agreement removing 98% of the pre-existing tariffs between the two areas. A CETA agreement between the UK and EU would aim to get rid of most, but not all, tariffs between the UK and the EU, this does not cover anything in services, particularly financial services, which is key to negotiations
Last week, the US Dollar made its biggest gain for two and a half months following the sell-off in the stock markets, in particular the Nasdaq (which is tech-led). There was no significant trigger for the sell-off, but commentators have rationalized the long winning streak and potential fears of a second wave of COVID-19. In the meantime, economic data was closely watched from the US for several reasons, including growth momentum, the upcoming presidential election in November and COVID. The headline figure for the week was the US labour data which came out stronger than expected. The headline non-farm payrolls hit expectations of 1.37m, whilst unemployment moved lower and average earnings edged higher. These numbers are likely to help President Trump. Closer to home, tensions between the UK and the EU don’t seem to be easing. The Prime Minister's office is reported to only see a 30-40% chance of a post-Brexit trade deal being agreed with the EU before the end of 2020. Currently, at the time of writing, peer to peer betting exchange Smarkets have the odds of no-deal emerging between the UK and EU before the end of 2020 at circa 60%. Over the weekend further tensions have been cited as Chief Negotiator Frost warned that the EU stance may limit the progress that could be made in the talks which resume on Tuesday. In addition, there are reports of new UK legislation which would over-ride the withdrawal agreement of Northern Ireland which may increase tensions sharply.
Last week we saw the US Dollar remain under pressure as economic data raised some question marks about its recovery. A leading indicator for employment, the weekly jobless claims, increased back above a million posting a figure of 1.1m, which was greater than the forecast of 930k. Compounding the recovery question marks was the Philly Fed Manufacturing data which was lower than expected as well as down from previous reports, suggesting that momentum is slowing. Keeping the Dollar under pressure was the sentiment in equity markets, with news from Pfizer that its Covid-19 vaccine was on course for regulatory review in October, has lent support. Sterling had a whipsaw week as both economic data and trade talk news drove the price. Sterling moved lower initially as speculation mounted that tensions between the UK and EU were raised during their trade talks. It was reported in the Financial Times that Brussels has rejected the UK’s opening demands for continued wide-ranging access to the EU for British truckers. During Friday’s press conference, Sterling once again came under pressure following comments from negotiators Michel Barnier and David Frost. The EU negotiator stated that he was "disappointed" and "concerned", whilst UK negotiator David Frost spoke of "little progress". Meanwhile, economic data continues to remain positive for the UK. Retail sales, services and manufacturing data all improved highlighting that the recovery’s momentum is continuing post easing restrictions. It will be interesting to see if the UK can continue this once the government’s schemes end - Furlough and Eat
By Jamie Jemmeson ACSI, MSTA & Tyler Betts, FX Risk Manager at Infinity International “You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So, you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” – Steve Jobs Steve Jobs’ philosophy of trusting that dots will connect may be very difficult to fathom in this current landscape; but who are we to question the man who created the world’s first trillion-dollar company. Infinity International will be providing content to our clients on several relevant topics covering a variety of possible concerns during these unprecedented times. To do this, we are drawing on our own experience, client feedback as well as the input from others in our network. Last month we covered a series on FX hedging and how this could assist your business in managing the current market volatility. This month we are looking at the topics which could impact on currency and potentially drive emotional decision-making surrounding FX hedging. In this series, we will focus on five key looming dilemmas of 2020 and what this may mean for FX. There may only be one or two ‘trend changing’ events in a normal year, that could significantly impact the direction of exchange rates; however, this year we have seen COVID-19 increase volatility with several other events on the horizon. 2020 has been a rocky road to date, but there are five further topics that could further drive market volatility. Each week we will cover
We cannot predict the markets, but we can help you navigate them Sterling’s volatility is compounded by three factors, global COVID-19 sentiment, Brexit trade talks and BoE policy. It is worth noting that in the 4 years since the EU referendum we have seen Sterling trade in a large range (circa 36 cents against the US Dollar and 26 cents against the Euro). With the fallout of COVID-19 still unknown, the impacts could be felt harder by some businesses. We have compiled FX forecasts using data taken from over 40 financial institutions in an effort to predict the high, low and mean rates for the next 6 months: covering the phase of negotiations between the UK and EU and the impact of COVID-19. As can be seen, there are large differentials between the high and lows which highlight the potential volatility that could happen during this period as we ride ebbs and flows of progress and setbacks in the forthcoming talks. Download the PDF report for the details: Infinity_FX July Forecasts Are you managing the risk of your FX exposure? Infinity International would be happy to offer a complimentary FX review of your current process to offer a fresh perspective and to highlight any areas that could be made more efficient. If you would like to organise a time for an exploratory conversation, please leave your details below. The review would encapsulate: Strategy ideation to align FX risk management with your business objectives FX
By Jamie Jemmeson ACSI, MSTA at Infinity International UK/EU trade talks seem to be echoing a similar case of déjà vu as Brexit did. Looking back at the timeline we can see a similar scenario from former Prime Minister May’s “Brexit means Brexit” and “no deal is better than a bad deal” to current Prime Minister, Johnson’s “do or die” speech, pushing negotiation right to the limit. This resulted in a transition deal following the UK’s exit of the EU on 31st January 2020. By the end of the year, both sides need to find ways around their respective differences, reach an agreement and leave enough time to ratify as well as implement the deal in legal text. Looking at what needs to be agreed, the task ahead is enormous, below is a selection of some of the subject matters that need to be in the agreement: free-trade agreement fishing waters agreement security co-operation legal jurisdiction financial sector alignment and Northern Ireland border complications It cannot be ignored that the COVID-19 pandemic has complicated an already tense process. Leaders have been focused on the pandemic as they manage both the economic, health and social fallout. Brexit talks were reduced to video conferences, reducing the opportunity for rapport building often critical to diplomacy. The deadline to extend the the transitional agreement beyond December, expires at the end of June. The UK has rejected the prospect of an extension and has made clear. Unlike other targets, this was self-imposed as it was
Last week was a volatile one in markets. Equity markets continue to fluctuate amid signs of improving economic conditions as lockdown restrictions ease and concerns that Covid-19 cases are rising again in some countries. Two weeks ago, there was a sharp sell-off in equities among reports of new coronavirus cases in Beijing and an acceleration of the number of cases in several US states. Confirmation from the Fed of its intention to buy corporate bonds and reports that the US government is considering a $1trn infrastructure spending boost, helped push US equities up earlier in the week. Despite some further wobbles later in the week, most equity markets seemed set to end the week higher. Sterling has slipped to its lowest since the end of May against the US Dollar and to its lowest since March against the euro. This, despite a rise in UK market interest rate expectations as no BoE members voted for a further cut and QE did not go beyond expectations. The “risk-on and risk-off” tone as well as the ongoing trade talks for Brexit remain two risk factors for Sterling. Some reports suggest that growing concerns about the lack of progress in UK-EU talks surrounding the future relationship may be helping to drive down the pound. This week there will be a lot of focus on PM Johnson on Tuesday, he will be discussing the likelihood of the hospitality sector reopening on 4 July and if the 2 meter social distancing rule in England