It is still unknown whether or not the government will grant full permission to launch HS2 – a topic that has appeared in news headlines regularly over the last few weeks. If you’re not familiar with the HS2, it it the proposed new rail system that will give travellers faster journeys to and from London. The current cost of the HS2 is ~£56bn, but the most recent news suggests that this number is likely to increase to ~£86bn. Yet, it has just been revealed that it was already known that the HS2 will cost more than initially agreed and estimated. According to BBC’s report, ‘[there] is evidence that both the public and Parliament were not given the full picture about the true cost.’
Should the HS2 be granted the go-ahead, it will be capable of travelling at 250mph, saving passengers up to 50 minutes when travelling from Leeds to London, and a full hour from Manchester. The high-speed rail line has been suggested to help balance the economy, to create jobs and to offer taxpayers greater value. However, the government’s HS2 Autumn review will reveal whether or not the railway will receive the all clear.
The U.S. trade war with China is building even more tension. The US have increased their tariffs for Chinese goods from 10% to 25%. This increase is having detrimental effect on companies, which are doing everything they can to maintain their profits. Wholesalers have raised the price of luxury vinyl flooring by almost 25%, and exporter CFL Flooring has even set up facilities in Taiwan and Vietnam in order to shrink the exposure of China to customers. According to some sources, the new tariff increase could cost each U.S. household, on average, an extra $770 a year.
The stress for UK trade is equally high. Due to the potential negative Brexit outcomes and the new prime minister Boris Johnson, plans to leave the EU come October 31st, whether there is a deal or not, this could form an even worse state for the UK’s pound value and trade market. President Trump and Boris Johnson have been discussing a trade deal between the US and the UK, and may even agree on a free-trade pact. However, this is raising concerns about the agreement resulting in the undermining of the UK’s public health system, the NHS, as well as food standards and farmers’ incomes. The UK has been unable to form a beneficial deal with the EU or other trading countries as of yet – although this agreement could offer support for trade, will it benefit the UK in the right way?
The British pound has fallen once more due to the recent news that the government has asked for the Queen to suspend Parliament. The pound was slowly increasing, but fell when Theresa May announced her resignation. The pound then fell again when Boris Johnson was announced as the next prime minister, and once more since the prorogation. The reason behind requesting to temporarily suspend parliament was, many say, to prevent opposing elements within the party from side-tracking his plans.
In Cameroon, it has been reported that ninety people are missing after a ferry capsized. Around 200 people were on board on the Austrheim near the island of Bakassi on Sunday afternoon. Local reports on the matter have suggested that the ferry was overloaded and the weather was bad, perhaps two factoring reasons for the capsize. Although around 100 passengers have been saved, there are fears that there are still many of them still trapped in the wreck.
However, this month’s digest is not all bad news. After the horrifying and upsetting fires in the Amazon rainforest, this wake-up call has had a catalytic affect on various sectors, including the supply chain. Although only a thin silver lining in a very murky cloud, retailers have been doing all they can to contribute to helping the environment, and it has been revealed that parent company of fashion retailer Vans, Timberland North Face, has stopped the use of Brazilian leather due to the current scenes in the Amazon. The US footwear and fashion garment company has said that they will stop the use of Brazilian materials until there is ‘confidence and assurance that the materials used in products do not contribute to environmental harm.’ Furthermore, luxury fashion retail LVHM (owner of Louis Vuitton) has announced plans to provide financial aid towards the Amazon wildfires, supporting and contributing to the damage that has occurred. It should be noted, however, that Brazil has actually refused certain aid, protesting that they are not a charity case.
If you would like information on how you can help with the Amazon rainforest fires, visit wwf.org.uk
Rachel Jefferies, Editor, FORWARDER magazine