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Foreign lorry drivers to be allowed to make more UK deliveries

lorry drivers

Foreign lorry drivers to be allowed to make more UK deliveries

Foreign lorry drivers will be able to make an unlimited number of pick-ups and drop-offs in a fixed period in the UK under changes to rules proposed by the government to prevent shortages of products in the run-up to Christmas and into the new year.

On Thursday, ministers announced a consultation on a plan to increase deliveries in the UK by temporarily changing so-called “cabotage” rules, which govern how many trips foreign transport firms can make within another country.

Currently, hauliers from the EU can only pick up and drop off goods in the UK twice in a seven-day period, but the proposals would allow them to make an unlimited number of deliveries across two weeks.

If approved, the plans would come into force before the end of the year and last for six months.

But lorry drivers reacted strongly against the move, saying “we don’t want cabotage to sabotage our industry”.

The lorry driver shortage in the UK – caused by the effects of Brexit, the pandemic and other factors – has affected petrol stations, supermarkets and has led to containers stacked up at Felixstowe port unable to be moved.

The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, said the effect of the proposed change to cabotage rules was the “equivalent of adding thousands of extra lorry drivers to the road, but we don’t have to do anything with visas in order to do this”.

He told Sky News: “It’s a straightforward measure. It’ll come in towards the end of the year. It’s one additional measure to 24 as a government we’ve already introduced and there’s evidence that’s working.”

He added: “People will be able to get things for Christmas – these measures are having an impact, things are loosening up.

“When I talk to ports they’re saying ‘yes, it is busy, it’s a globally busy picture’, but if you compare us to many ports around the world, we need to keep this in proportion – things are flowing.”

Rod McKenzie, the managing director of policy and public affairs at the Road Haulage Association, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We don’t want cabotage to sabotage our industry.”

He said: “I spoke to some of our members last night, they were appalled. Ridiculous, pathetic, gobsmacked were some of their more broadcastable comments.

“The government has been talking about a high-wage, high-skill economy, and not pulling the lever marked ‘uncontrolled immigration’, and to them this is exactly what it looks like: allowing overseas haulage companies and drivers to come over for perhaps up to six months on a fortnightly basis to do unlimited work at low rates, undercutting UK hauliers who are facing an acute driver shortage, rising costs, staff wages.

“This is about taking work from British operators and drivers and giving it to Europeans who don’t pay tax here and pay peanuts to their drivers.”

Shapps said issues with supply chains were a problem internationally but they were being dealt with “resiliently” in the UK and “we shouldn’t report ourselves into a crisis”.

“We know that the globe has woken up following coronavirus with huge supply chain issues everywhere around the entire world,” he said.

“But in this country we have taken 24, now 25, different steps on the domestic side of that – the lorry drivers side of things – and we’re seeing it have a big impact.

“We’ve got now three times as many people applying to become lorry drivers every single day than before the crisis. We have to be careful, we mustn’t try and report ourselves into a crisis.”

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UK’s Truss defends economic plan that sent pound tumbling

UK’s Truss defends economic plan that sent pound tumbling

British Prime Minister Liz Truss on Thursday defended her economic plan and shrugged off the negative reaction from financial markets, saying she’s willing to make “difficult decisions” to get the economy growing.

In her first public comments since the government’s announcement of billions in uncosted tax cuts roiled markets and drove the pound to record lows, Truss said Britain was facing “very, very difficult economic times.” But she said the problems were global and spurred by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

She spoke after the Bank of England took emergency action Wednesday to stabilize U.K. financial markets and head off a crisis in the broader economy after the government spooked investors with a program of unfunded tax cuts, sending the pound tumbling and the cost of government debt soaring.

Truss told BBC local radio that “we had to take urgent action to get our economy growing, get Britain moving and also deal with inflation.”

“Of course lots of measures we have announced won’t happen overnight. We won’t see growth come through overnight,” she said. “What is important is that we are putting this country on a better trajectory for the long term.”

In a series of interviews, Truss said her government’s decision to cap energy bills for households and businesses would help tame inflation and help millions of people facing a cost of living crisis.

But it was not that decision that alarmed the markets. It was the government’s announcement on Friday of an economic stimulus program that included 45 billion pounds ($48 billion) of tax cuts and no spending reductions — without an independent economic assessment of the cost and impact.

The Bank of England warned that crumbling confidence in the economy posed a “material risk to U.K. financial stability,” and said it would buy long-term government bonds over the next two weeks to combat a recent slide in British financial assets.

The bank’s former governor, Mark Carney said that the government and the central bank appeared to be pulling in different directions.

“Unfortunately having a partial budget, in these circumstances — tough global economy, tough financial market position, working at cross-purposes with the Bank — has led to quite dramatic moves in financial markets,” he told the BBC.

The pound traded at around $1.08 on Thursday, above its record low of $1.0373 on Monday. It has lost some 4% of its value since Friday.

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Stimulus Packages Provided During Pandemic Triggered Inflation- CBN

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has attributed the rising inflationary rates to the stimulus packages provided to citizens during and after the pandemic.

It added that although this increased spending, it also created global supply challenges.

CBN’s director, Monetary Policy Department, Hassan Mahmoud, said this on Wednesday at a post-MPC briefing tagged: “Unveiling Facts behind the Figures’’.

The Monetary Policy Committee had on Tuesday, unanimously voted to increase interest rate to 15.5 per cent.

“A lot of households and small businesses were injected with stimuluses; the U.S did two trillion dollars, Nigeria did about five trillion Naira, these increased the ability of people to spend.

“But the supply side could not meet up with the demand because that volume of injection was far more than the regular intake for those economies, this made prices go up,’’ he said.

Mahmoud also blamed the Russian-Ukraine war, as well as the resurgence of COVID-19 in China for the rise in global inflationary trend.

“That region accounts for more than 50 per cent of global commodity supply and 38 per cent of global oil and gas supply. The war resulted in some shortages which made prices go up.

“Then the COVID-19 lockdown in China. The country is the largest importer of commodities across the globe,’’ he added.

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China’s yuan slides to 14-year low against US dollar

China’s yuan slides to 14-year low against US dollar

China’s yuan fell to a 14-year low against the dollar Wednesday despite US central bank efforts to stem the slide after U.S. interest rate hikes prompted traders to convert money into dollars in search of higher returns.

A weaker yuan helps Chinese exporters by making their goods cheaper abroad, but it encourages capital to flow out of the economy. That raises costs for Chinese borrowers and sets back the ruling Communist Party’s efforts to boost weak economic growth.

The yuan fell to 7.2301 to the dollar, its lowest level since January 2008. One yuan was worth about 13.8 cents, down 15% from its March high.

The yuan has exceeded expectations it might fall to 7 to the dollar after the Federal Reserve started aggressive rate hikes to cool inflation that is at a four-decade high. The Fed has raised rates five times this year and says more increases are likely.

By contrast, the People’s Bank of China has cut interest rates to boost growth that fell to 2.2% over a year earlier in the first six months of 2022 — less than half the official 5.5% target.

The yuan is allowed to fluctuate up or down 2% from its starting price each day in tightly controlled trading. That prevents big daily swings, but down days can add up to a big change over time.

To shore up the exchange rate, Beijing cut the amount of foreign currency deposits Chinese banks are required to hold as reserves to 6% from 8% as of Sept. 15. That increases the amount of dollars and other foreign currency available to buy yuan, which should push up the exchange rate.

Still, that reserve cut is unlikely to stop a slide that is driven by “a strong U.S. dollar and the expectation of more Federal Reserve hikes,” said Iris Pang of ING in a report.

“Less aggressive rate hike talk” might help the yuan rally, but it might weaken further “if the Fed maintains its very hawkish tone” into next year, Pang wrote.

Chinese officials have previously promised to avoid “competitive devaluation” to gain an advantage in trade.

The yuan sank in 2019 during trade tension with then-President Donald Trump. That prompted suggestions Beijing was trying to reduce the impact of U.S. tariff hikes, but there was no official confirmation. The currency later strengthened.

Other governments also are struggling to manage capital flows under pressure from Fed rate hikes. On Friday, Vietnam’s central bank raised a key interest rate in what economists said appeared to be an effort to stop an outflow of money in search of higher returns.

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