Weekly news roundup: 20 September 2018

This week's David Sapsted roundup includes information about the UK economy, Brexit, expat taxes in The Netherlands, the US-China "trade war", a neoliberal think tank proposed "free trade agreement" between the US and UK, and new visa laws for expat retirees in the UAE.

Chinese and US flag illustrates the Sept 2018 weekly Relocate news roundup which includes an article about the US/China trade war and expats who vow to keep their firms in China.

US firms in China to "defy trade war relocations"

President Donald Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on an extra $200 billions-worth of Chinese products will not persuade US firms operating in China to relocate to the United States, according to the trade group representing Sino-American businesses.While William Zarit, chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, accepted the latest chapter in the trade war would have a "strong negative impact", he said Mr Trump's hopes it would force US companies in China to return operations to the States were misplaced.Mr Zarit said in a statement: “This will not result in bringing more business back to American soil: just six per cent of our member companies say this current US-China trade dispute would make them consider relocating operations back home.”The South China Morning Post reported that Chinese Commerce Minister Zhong Shan held talks this week with representatives from six multi-national companies - the Cohen Group, Emerson, SAP, HSBC, Samsung and Toyota - promising them that China’s market would be more open to them and that Beijing would enhance intellectual property protection."Meanwhile, China has approved foreign investments such as giving Tesla the nod to build a factory with exclusive ownership – instead of the usually required joint-venture model – in Shanghai in July, and ExxonMobil the go-ahead this month for a $10 billion chemical plant in Guangdong," reported the Post.

Expats in The Netherlands fight "ill-planned, harsh and unfair" tax changes

A Dutch group is considering legal action over the government's plan to abruptly cut the 30 per cent tax break that expatriates currently enjoy, from eight to five years.Some 60,000 expat families will be affected if, as proposed, the change is introduced next year. Lobby group United Expats in the Netherlands (UENL) is seeking legal advice after the government refused to bring in a transition period for existing international workers in the country.UENL says the decision not to have a transition period for expats who arrived in the country expecting to enjoy the tax break for at least three more years was "ill-planned, harsh and unfair" and would "dramatically affect the lives of thousands of expats and their families living and working in the Netherlands".Jessica Taylor Piotrowski, one of the group's organisers, said the measure - which still has to be approved by parliament - was "counter to the principles of the Netherlands and, even more, may violate Dutch and European law".Financial planner José de Boer, who advises expats on financial issues and mortgages, told DutchNews.nl that the government action sent out the message that they wanted businesses to relocate to the Netherlands "but not the highly skilled staff that are also needed".

Proposed UK-US post-Brexit free-trade agreement could eliminate tariffs on virtually all goods

A UK-US trade deal after Brexit could "rewrite the rules" of global commerce, according to one of the authors of a new report.Compiled by contributors from eleven British and American think-tanks, the draft of the report envisages an "ideal" free-trade agreement that would eliminate tariffs on virtually all goods - though it warns the 'buy American' policies being pursued by President Trump could scupper such an agreement.Dan Ikenson, from the Cato Institute in Washington DC, said the project was aimed at persuading policymakers and the public that a "comprehensive bilateral trade and investment agreement removing all barriers to trade across all sectors of both economies without exception is in their best interests".Matt Kilcoyne, from the London think-tank the Adam Smith Institute, added: "Together the US and the UK have the clout to rewrite the rules of global trade."This deal would be about freeing citizens of the two largest English-speaking countries to trade without impediment, to be able to move for work and change their stars."Britain's future is bright, so long as it doesn't just buy into the status quo or join in trade wars against her own citizens. Instead, the UK must seek to bring down barriers and push up prosperity."Tom Clougherty, from the Centre for Policy Studies, another co-author of the report, said: "This isn't just an ideal free trade agreement between Britain and the United States - it is a model for how trade liberalisation can and should work in the 21st-century."

UAE approves new visa law for expat retirees

For the first time, expats in the UAE are going to be allowed to remain in the federation after they have retired.The country’s Cabinet has approved a new visa law that will allow expats over the age of 55 to remain for five years after retirement, with the possibility of extending residency if they meet specific requirements based on property ownership or substantial savings.Coming into effect next year, the new law follows changes earlier this year to grant long-term visas of a decade or more to certain key professions.One expat told the Khaleej Times: "We have families who have made UAE their home for decades. An extension on the stay will positively enhance the multi-cultural appeal of the country. The UAE has once again proven their far-sighted and benevolent thinking."The initiative is also seen as a move that will boost various business sectors, including real estate and retailing.

Scotland public services concerned about loss of skilled EU workers, BBC research reports

The potential loss of skilled workers from EU after Brexit "has emerged as a key concern of Scotland's public services", according to research conducted by the BBC.The corporation obtained responses from 80 public bodies north of the border and found "starkly different degrees of preparation" for Brexit. While major local authorities such as Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee have produced detailed reports on Brexit, many smaller councils have not, the research found.In Edinburgh, which is home to about 39,000 EU nationals - Scotland's highest concentration - more than five per cent of city council employees come from the continent. The authority reported that "uncertainty over future immigration status and potential work permit regulations introduces a significant risk for the city".Meanwhile, councils across the Highlands and Islands said EU free movement had helped sustain fragile communities and bring in much-needed skills. A population study warns: "Any changes to migration policy that reduced inward migration in future would, therefore, be expected to lead to a decline in the population."

Study finds that Germans remain positive about immigration, despite worldwide focus on far-right activists

While the activities of far right activists might have made the headlines recently, people in Germany continue to view the country's multicultural society positively, according to a new study by the Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration (SVR).The 'Integration Barometer 2018' is the first representative study on the subject since the start of the so-called refugee crisis in 2015.It found that 63.8 per cent of indigenous Germans viewed the integration of immigrants situation positively, only slightly down from the 65.4 per cent logged in the 2015 study. Residents with immigrant backgrounds viewed the integration situation even more positively, rating it at 68.9 percent.However, the study found a sharp division between eastern and western states, with 66 per cent of western Germans satisfied with the status of immigration, while eastern Germans rated it at 55 per cent.In general, women were more positive about integration than men.

Brexit update: British Chambers of Commerce downgrades growth expectations for the UK economy

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has downgraded its growth expectations for the UK economy, forecasting GDP growth for 2018 at just 1.1 per cent and 1.3 per cent next year."The downgrades to our forecast for GDP growth in 2018 and 2019 have been largely driven by a weaker outlook for trade and investment. Exporters face more subdued growth given continued Brexit uncertainty and the expected slower growth in key markets," said the BCC.On skills and labour, Adam Marshall, the organisation's director-general, said: “Our forecast makes clear that there is no room for ministers to kick the can further on the UK’s future immigration policy. Businesses need to know, now, that they can hire the people they need after Brexit - without being tied up in reams of new costly red tape.”Suren Thiru, BCC head of economics, added: “The persistent failure to lift the UK economic speed limit by taking sustained action to boost productivity, from closing the skills gap to greater infrastructure investment, continues to limit the UK’s growth potential and leaves the UK more susceptible to external economic shocks."For related news and features, visit our International AssignmentsUK and Brexit sections.
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