Your Weekly Commercial Awareness Update – w/c 28th May 2018

Your Weekly Commercial Awareness Update – w/c 28th May 2018

Here are this week’s headlines, brought to you by our Student Commercial Awareness Team:

Trump tariffs set to hit Europe, the EU reacts

Reported by Dan Petch and Anna-Mei Harvey

Two months ago, the US President announced the imposition of tariffs on imported steel and aluminium. Europe, Canada and Mexico have, until now, enjoyed exemption from said tariffs. Tensions have risen as Wilbur Ross, the US commerce secretary, announced that the import duties on steel and aluminium and 25% and 10% respectively shall now apply to EU goods.

Mr Ross attempted to justify the inception of import taxes against allied countries by highlighting America’s trade deficit. Talks have been held between the USA and allied countries to address the issue, however, Mr Ross labelled them as disappointing. He continued saying the talks had failed to result in any meaningful and sufficient progress and thus the previous ‘tariff waiver’ was to be revoked.

Temporary exemptions were initially granted to some countries, including members of the EU while further discussions occurred regarding future trade arrangements. In addition, some other countries were provided with more permanent exemptions, such as South Korea, in exchange for a limit on exports by such countries.

The EU threatened to retaliate when the tariffs were first announced, by suggesting they would place excessive custom duties on products such as orange juice and Bourbon being imported from the US.

The temporary exemption that the EU has been enjoying since March is set to end on the 1st of June, however the Wall Street Journal reported that the Trump administration’s plans could still change dependent on how the current negotiations taking place in Paris turnout.

Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, has reacted to the news, calling the move ‘unjustified.’ He went on to say that the EU had no choice but to react in an essentially equal and opposite manner by imposing tariffs on American goods, in combination with submitting a case to the World Trade Organisation (WTO.) Some ‘All-American’ brands expected to be targeted by European tariffs are Levi, Harley Davidson and bourbon whiskey.

The news may also rock boats in Britain. There had been hopes of a post-Brexit deal with their American allies, concerning trade liberalisation, however as the US announces EU tariffs and protectionist measures against China, this may now seem out of reach. Downing Street has commented saying that Theresa May will raise the issue with Trump at next week’s meeting of the G7 industrial nations in Canada.

If the tariffs go into effect, the US would impose a tax of 25% on European steel and 10% on aluminium.

For more information, see the BBC, the Financial Times, and the Independent.

Tommy Robinson held in contempt of court

Reported by Spencer Yap

After recording a court hearing, Tommy Robinson, founder of far right English Defence League (EDL), uploaded the video onto Facebook account with 860 000 followers. It quickly garnered over a quarter million views within hours. Robinson who appeared in the Leeds court with his legal name, Stephan Yaxley-Lennon, have subsequently been held in contempt of court and was sentenced to 10 months’ imprisonment. By broadcasting any information of an ongoing case, it runs the risk of prejudicing the jury which could lead to retrial, costing taxpayers ‘hundreds and hundreds of thousands of pounds’.

The latest criminal sanction on Robinson is not his first. In a different case in Canterbury, the far right founder was previously held in contempt of court but received a suspended sentence. Having breached his previous suspension, the Leeds court awarded Robinson with an additional 3 months.

His sentencing, sparked controversies on freedom of speech, finding support from other right winged personalities, including the son of America’s president, Donald Trump Jr, who called this ‘Reason #1776 for the original #brexit’. In a video shared online, Far-right Dutch MP, Geerts Wilders reacted to the sentence saying ‘the lights of freedom are going out!’ Locally, Gerard Batten, leader of right winged UKIP, also came to the defence of Robinson. Many are also taking it to the streets, with protests occurring outside Downing Street shortly after his arrest.

It is unlikely that Robinson would be received as he once was, who once appeared on BBC programmes, and gave talks at the Oxford Union. Despite this, the global fame he is gathering as a result of his sentencing will likely earn him more followers online. Which arguably is a more effective platform for him to spread his idea, traditionally consisting of anti-Islamic views.

For more information, see the Economist, and the BBC .

Reports reveal ongoing cross-examinations by abusers in Family Courts

Reports reveal ongoing cross-examinations by abusers in Family courts

Reported by Jutha Cheewat

Woman’s aid and Queen Mary University reported a ‘systematic gender discrimination in Family and domestic abuse cases in particular.

The report called “What about my right not to be abused?” Domestic abuse, human rights and the family courts” came put at the same time as The Domestic Abuse Bill.

In 2017, it was announced that “Domestic abusers will no longer be able to cross-examine their former partners in family courts in England and Wales, the justice secretary is to announce.” According to the BBC, the reform was triggered by many involved parties including the President of the Family Division of the High Court at the time, Sir James Munby.

Having said that many victims of domestic violence continue to be cross-examined by their abusers in family courts. The Guardian also reported that at least 24% were reported to have been cross-examined by their ex-partner and 69% emitted that the abuse extended to their children. Therefore, victims’ lives, including children, are being put at risk because they were not given safer hearings.

Many activists including Katie Ghose, the chief executive of Women’s Aid and Shazia Choudhry, a professor of law at Queen Mary raised the concerns.

Choudhry emphasised in the Guardian that “There is evidence of the family courts failing in their responsibility to prevent and investigate acts of violence towards these survivors, and facilitating or failing to challenge a climate of gender discrimination within the courtroom. The findings of this research are deeply concerning and require urgent attention from both the judiciary and the legal profession.”

Nevertheless, a Ministry of Justice spokesperson responded with assurance that “We will legislate to ban the unacceptable practice of abusers cross-examining their victims in the family court as soon as possible. The law is clear that the child’s welfare is paramount, and it is for judges to determine what is best for the child after careful consideration of the facts in each case.”

Read more here, here, and here.

Are non-compete clauses beneficial?

Reported by Spencer Yap

Non-compete clauses are common in an acquisition. It ensures that an acquired company does not turn around and hire important employees, poach clients or apply trade secrets which made the company successful and acquired in the first place. Indeed, in certain cases it most definitely is called for. As said by Paul English who sold his company for $1.6bn, ‘If a company pays nearly $2bn, they have the right to tell you that you can’t create a competitor.”

Yet, non-compete clauses are common in ordinary employment contracts. An extreme example of this would be Jimmy John’s in America, which had a non-compete clauses that prevented its employees from working in shops in the same sector within 2 miles of any of its outlets. The questions remains, are they beneficial for the economy?

Some has commented that it ‘limit mobility and opportunity for vulnerable workers and bully them into staying with the threat of being sued’. Indeed it seems to be damaging for the employee’s point of view. They either lose the opportunity to move to a better position in a different company. On the other hand, ‘[N]on-competes might not be harmful for workers, on balance, if employers had to pay extra to compensate employees for signing away some of their rights.’ Research from the University of Maryland suggests this to be untrue, finding that hourly pay seems to be 4% lower in areas where non-competes are prevalent. Considering a pay rise is often associated with an offer from another employer, the study eludes that non-compete clauses does not confer a benefit to job-seekers. Yet, it have been found that more training were provided in such places, suggesting that it may increase their labour capital.

Research from the Chicago’s Booth School of Business have also found that places with more non-compete clauses, often invest more in improving technology. Interesting, in the same study, it was found that less innovation is derived when non-competes are aggressively used. AnnaLee Saxenian commented that the rise of Silicon Valley (where non-compete clauses has often been met with hostility) is largely due to the facilitation of ‘flow of ideas and made it easier to start new firms.’ It seems that the effects of non-compete clauses is mixed.

Importantly, it seems like non-compete clauses have to be uniformed in some ways. In America, the enforce-ability of non-compete clauses are dependent on state, employers from one a state that is friendly to non-compete clauses are able to poach employees from states that welcomes such restrictions. Similarly, if there are significant differences in the EU, considering the ease of mobility from one country to, another mimics the ease of movement in America, an uniformed standard towards non-compete clauses may make one country more competitive than another (or vice versa).

Read more here at the Economist.

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