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Tuesday's Business and Politics round-up

19 Mar 2019

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Good morning!

The world’s most expensive cities have been revealed, with Paris, Hong Kong and Singapore sharing the top spot. 

It is the first time the annual ranking by the Economist Intelligence Unit has seen three cities with the accolade. 

The survey compared the cost of common items, such as bread, in 133 cities and then compared these with prices in New York, which is used as a benchmark.

Four of the top ten cities are in Europe. Report author Roxana Slavcheva said "European cities tend to have the highest costs in the household, personal care, recreation and entertainment categories […] perhaps reflecting a greater premium on discretionary spending”. 

Meanwhile, a “growing number” of cities are becoming cheaper due to political and economic disruption. Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil and Turkey saw sharp falls in the cost of living ranking. 

Venezuelan capital Caracas is now ranked the cheapest city, second only to Damascus. 



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Heeeere's Johnny!

Commons Speaker John Bercow made a dramatic entrance into the Brexit debate yesterday, as he ruled out another vote on May’s deal unless substantial changes are made first.

Bercow cited a rule from 1604 which states that a defeated motion cannot be brought back in the same form during the course of a parliamentary session. He explained the second vote on the deal, which took place last week, was "in order" as it was substantially different to the first.

It was thought the Prime Minister would put her Brexit deal to the Commons for the third time this week, ahead of the European Council Summit on Thursday and Friday. 

Last week MPs voted in favour of May seeking a three-month extension to Article 50 if the agreement is voted through the Commons this week. 

Downing Street was reportedly ‘stunned’ with the Speaker’s move, with solicitor-general Robert Buckland calling it a “constitutional crisis”. He added "Frankly we could have done without this, but it is something we are going to have to deal with".

May will meet her Cabinet today to discuss next steps. Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will meet with leaders from the SNP, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and Green Party for talks on Brexit. 

I'm steel here! 

The Government’s Industrial Strategy is too focussed on high-tech and fast-moving companies and ignores traditional industries like steel, according to a new report by the Business Select Committee.

The report says the steel industry has been particularly let down by the strategy, as the Government had “misrepresented” the suggestions put to it by businesses. As an example, MPs cited the failure to respond to pleas from steel companies for reliefs on energy bills.

Industries including car and aerospace, life sciences and offshore wind secured ‘sector deals’ worth hundreds of millions, mainly to match R&D funding. Yet businesses in the “everyday economy”, such as steel, retail and hospitality, which employ millions, failed to benefit as much. 

Even where sector deals were secured, the report describes the process as “lengthy and confusing” and like “playing darts blindfolded”. A spokesperson at the Department for Business said it would consider MPs’ findings and respond in due course. 

The Industrial Strategy, which was launched in 2017, was touted as a way to champion businesses by channelling existing funding into priority areas, while helping to boost productivity. 

Fake news

Online retail is contributing significantly to the rapid rise of counterfeit goods, according to the OECD.

The value of fake merchandise sold globally is $590 billion (£384.4 billion). Illicit goods, such as designer watches and handbags, accounted for 3.3% of total international trade in 2016, up from 2.5% in 2013. The surge came at a time when global trade volumes fell.

The OECD, which used data collected by customs officials around the world, said the most common seized imported items were footwear, clothing, leather goods and IT equipment. 

Postal parcels was the most common way of shipping counterfeit items. The report references “digital platforms which help connect supply and demand globally” as making a particular difference.

China is cited as the by far the biggest country of origin for illicit goods, having been ranked the top producer in nine out of ten categories. As much as 27% of fake goods worldwide can be traced back to China. 

Nearly 24% of products seized in the study involved intellectual property rights held by US owners. The alleged theft of intellectual property is one of President Trump’s main gripes in the US trade dispute with China. 


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Donjeta Miftari, Head of Communications 

020 7451 3285


Euan Holmes, Press Officer

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