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Boris Johnson meets with Merkel and Macron to
avoid increasingly likely 'No Deal' Brexit outcome

BERLIN Germany (Xinhua) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the visiting British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday reiterated the Brexit with a deal, but were different in approaches.

In his first trip abroad since assuming office, Johnson called again for re-negotiations for the Brexit agreement between Britain and the European Union (EU) in order to avoid Britain leaving the bloc without a deal on Oct. 31.

The EU, Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron have repeatedly rejected to renegotiate the Brexit deal with London. The Brexit deal made under Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May was rejected three times by the British Parliament.

The most disputed issue is how to prevent a new border between controls between the EU member Ireland and British Northern Ireland.

At the joint press conference before the meeting, Johnson said he believed the so-called backstop, an arrangement in the withdrawal deal designed to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland, had "grave, grave defects" and that it therefore "plainly has to go."

"But once we get rid of it, if we change it, then I think there is the real prospect of making progress very rapidly indeed," Johnson added.


German Chancellor Angela Merkel shakes hands with visiting British Prime Minister Boris Johnson | Coastweek

BERLIN Germany (Xinhua) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel shakes hands with visiting British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Berlin, Germany. Angela Merkel and Boris Johnson on Wednesday reiterated the Brexit with a deal, but were different in approaches. XINHUA PHOTO - LIAN ZHEN
Johnson said he was in favor of Britain leaving the EU with a negotiated deal in place, but stressed that he didn’t think his predecessor, Theresa May, had made real alternative proposals to the backstop in order to ensure this happened.

Merkel said the backstop was intended only as a transitional rule for the not finally resolved Ireland issue. So far, it has been assumed that a final solution will be found in the next two years.

Merkel also emphasized the interest in a "negotiated withdrawal", but at the same time said that "We are also prepared if such a negotiated withdrawal does not exist".

"But you might find them in the next 30 days.

"Why not?

"Then we’re a long way ahead," said Merkel, adding that border controls between Northern Ireland and Ireland would become superfluous and that the integrity of the single market could be safeguarded if Britain and the EU re-define their future relations.

Johnson said Britain and Germany stood shoulder to shoulder on many international issues, including in NATO and in the fight against climate change.

Johnson is scheduled to visit Paris on Thursday to talk with Marcon.

The two meetings are likely to help form consensus ahead of the G7 summit from Aug. 24 to 26 in Biarritz in southern France.


Sweden economy entering economic downturn: finance minister

STOCKHOLM Sweden (Xinhua) -- Sweden’s Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson believes the country is entering an economic downturn, Swedish news SVT reported on Thursday.

"We have seen that several of the risks we pointed to have increased during the summer, such as both the trade dispute between China and the U.S., and a no-deal Brexit," Minister Andersson said.

However, according to Minister Andersson, Sweden is well-equipped to handle a cyclical slowdown.

"We have created order and control in the state finances and have made sure to pay off real government debt so that we have muscles for all eventualities," Minister Andersson told SVT during a press conference on Thursday, held shortly after a government gathering at the Swedish Prime Minister’s residence of Harpsund, south of Stockholm.

"My assessment is that it would be unwise to pursue a sharply leaner policy in a situation where we see a cyclical slowdown," Minister Andersson said.

"We have estimated that in this budget we have a reform space of about SEK 25 billion." (approximately 2.5 billion U.S. dollars)

Politicians who attended Minister Andersson’s update on the Swedish economy expressed their concern about what the downturn will mean for social welfare and business prospects.

"The business cycle has deteriorated," said Elisabeth Svantesson, economic policy spokesperson for the Moderate party.

"Germany’s economy is suffering and the trade war between China and the United States has escalated.

"And in Sweden we now see that unemployment has risen and growth has shrunk," Svantesson added.

"Now the Swedish economy is entering a new era and it is hugely important to prioritize.

"Citizens should know that we are investing in what is actually needed.

"The police should have resources, defense should be strengthened.

"Many municipalities also need extra resources."

"Many municipalities, often rural municipalities, are in a real financial crisis," Oscar Sjostedt, economic policy spokesperson for the Sweden Democrats’ party, agreed.

"We can expect a budget that is not in line with the needs that exist.

"We need a policy of economic equality and investment in welfare.

"This government will increase economic inequality," Ulla Andersson, economic political spokesperson for the Left Party, told SVT.
(1 U.S. dollar = 9.67 SEK)


Europeans should have patience for Brexit deal success: Finnish minister

HELSINKI Finland (Xinhua) -- Finnish Minister for European Affairs Tytti Tuppurainen said on Thursday that Europeans "should have the patience" for a further delay of Brexit, if London asks for that.

Tuppurainen also commented on the role of Finland as the rotating EU presidency.

She said the room for Finland’s maneuver is rather limited.

Earlier this week, Finnish Prime Minister Antti Rinne said that, as an experienced trade union negotiator, he could think of something in helping finding solutions on Brexit.

Rinne and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson are going to meet soon.

Tuppurainen underlined on Thursday that Finland totally respects the mandate of the EU negotiator Michel Barnier.

She said that Finland as the EU Council’s president country looks for the good cooperation with Johnson.

Tuppurainen appeared in a joint press conference with Amelie de Montchalin, French Minister for European Affairs.

The French minister said France supports the aims of the Finnish presidency.

Montchalin said that France does not want a hard Brexit, but rather an orderly solution.

"But this would be a decision by Westminster and Downing Street, not a decision in the EU capitals."

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson joins Paris talks
over Brexit with French President Emmanuel Macron

PARIS France (Xinhua) -- Visiting British Prime Minister Boris Johnson started talks with French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday afternoon, with the thorny issue of Irish border plan of the Brexit deal on the top of agenda.

"We must leave the European Union on October 31, deal or no deal", Johnson told the press before the talks, adding that he wants a deal and he was "powerfully encouraged" by talks on Wednesday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.

Merkel said a negotiated departure of Britain from the EU is still possible "within 30 days".

Paris is the second leg of Johnson’s first foreign visit since he took office.

"In the month ahead, we will not find a new withdrawal agreement," said the French president, alongside with Johnson. But he called for a "useful" month of talks with Britain.

It is possible to find something intelligent but any solution should not be far from the fundamentals that have already been negotiated, said Macron. "Nobody is going to wait until Oct. 31 without trying to find a good solution."

The two referred to the "backstop" border plan reached under former British Prime Minister Theresa May.

This key part of the Brexit deal intends to maintain a seamless border between the British region of Northern Ireland and the EU member-state the Republic of Ireland.

Johnson had said the "backstop" is "divisive" and "anti-democratic" and pledged to get rid of it.

The EU has so far refused to renegotiate.

"Our position has always been to respect the sovereignty of the British people," said the French president.

"We are actively getting prepared to all scenarios."

When asked about what will happen with a no-deal Brexit, Johnson told the press that under no circumstances would Britain set up border checks on the boundary between the British Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

"Technical solutions are readily available and they have been discussed at great length," he said.

"You can have trusted trader schemes, you can have electronic pre-clearing."


German machinery export momentum slows considerably: industry association

FRANKFURT Germany (Xinhua) -- The export momentum of Germany’s mechanical engineering sector has slowed considerably, affected by global trade conflicts and an increasingly weak economy, the German Mechanical Engineering Industry Association (VDMA) announced on Wednesday.

The association cited data from the Federal Statistical Office, which showed machine deliveries in the first six months this year increased only by a nominal 0.9 percent to 89.2 billion euros (about 99 billion U.S. dollars) from the same period last year.

In adjusted terms, exports of mechanical engineering companies increased by 3.8 percent in the first quarter but recorded a decline of 1.8 percent to 44.7 billion euros in the second quarter, the VDMA said.

"The uncertainty caused in particular by the trade dispute between the U.S. and China and the lack of any prospect of an agreement in the Brexit dispute are damaging our export-oriented industry," VDMA Chief Economist Ralph Wiechers wrote in a note.

Wiechers also noted a decline in investment activity in China and the United Kingdom, especially in machinery and equipment, as well as a slowing pace of expansion in the United States.

From January to June, exports to the United States rose by 7.8 percent to 9.96 billion euros, accounting for 11.2 percent of the total German machinery exports.

Over the same period, exports to China increased by 0.6 percent to 9.72 billion euros, giving China a 10.4 percent share of total exports, according to the VDMA.

The association also noted that exports to Japan continued to develop positively, registering a 12-percent increase to 1.49 billion euros in the first six months.

British manufacturing output stabilizes despite Brexit
'uncertainty reports' Confederation of British Industry

LONDON United Kingdom (Xinhua) -- British manufacturing output stabilized in the three months to August, according to figures published Tuesday by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

CBI’s monthly Industrial Trends Survey showed that 15 percent of manufacturers reported total order books to be above normal, with 28 percent being below normal, bring a balance of negative 13 percent, less than the reading of negative 34 percent in July.

Meanwhile, 11 percent of firms revealed their export order books were above normal, compared with a 26 percent being below normal, giving a balance of negative 15 percent, also less than the number of negative 32 percent in July.

In terms of stockpiles, 18 percent of companies said their present stocks of finished goods were more than adequate, with only 4 percent saying they were less than adequate, sending a balance of positive 14 percent, slightly higher than the long run average of positive 13 percent.

Anna Leach, deputy chief economist in CBI, said: "despite signs of stabilization in the data this month, UK manufactures remain on the receiving end of a double whammy: the slowdown in the global economy and Brexit uncertainty. "

"As we get closer to October, it’s crucial that the new prime minister secures a Brexit deal ahead of that deadline and gets on with pressing domestic priorities, from improving our infrastructure to fixing the apprenticeship levy," Leach said.

Tom Crotty, chair of CBI Manufacturing Council, said: "relentless Brexit uncertainty has continued to be a millstone around the neck of manufacturing firms as we approach the end of the summer."

Crotty said it was vital for government to lift the burden by ending the Brexit deadlock, adding that "only then can our manufacturers turn their full attention to long-standing issues affecting the sector, such as solving the skills challenge and improving productivity."

United Kingdom companies to enrol in customs system for post-Brexit trading

LONDON United Kingdom (Xinhua) -- Companies in Britain will be automatically enrolled in an important customs system to trade post-Brexit, British Chancellor Sajid Javid announced on Wednesday.

According to a joint announcement of British Treasury and Revenue & Customs, in the next two weeks, more than 88,000 VAT registered companies across the country will be allocated an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number, to enable them to keep trading with customers and suppliers in the European Union (EU) after Brexit.

EORI numbers are a unique ID number allocated to companies that enables them to be identified by British customs authorities to move goods into or out of the EU after Brexit.

A total of 72,000 companies in Britain have already registered for EORI numbers, said the government.

Javid said there can be no time for the delay of preparation to leave the EU on Oct. 31, and that is why British customs authority has allocated thousands of businesses with a trading number, to ensure they can continue to trade their goods through Europe from day one.

"This will help ease the flow of goods at border points and support businesses to trade and grow," the chancellor added.

Finnish Prime Minister Antti Rinne tries to help finding Brexit solutions

HELSINKI Finland (Xinhua) -- Finnish Prime Minister Antti Rinne said on Monday he would meet British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on "ways to reach an agreement-based Brexit without opening the existing agreement" between the UK and the European Union.

Rinne said on Monday evening in Reykjavik that he had talked on the phone with Johnson.

The five Nordic prime ministers and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet in Reykjavik on Tuesday.

Johnson had contacted Rinne to find out what the Finnish views would be if the existing agreement is renegotiated.

Rinne said he had told Johnson that the remaining 27 EU member countries are very unanimous on not re-opening and re-negotiating the Brexit agreement.

"The agreement will stand, it will not be opened," Rinne told Finnish reporters that accompany him on the trip.

Rinne had told Johnson that he is prepared as the prime minister of the EU Council presidency country "to seek a way out".

Rinne had referred to his 20-year experience as a trade union negotiator and said he would be open to consider "other solutions than opening the Brexit agreement."

The date of the possible meeting between Johnson and Rinne has not been agreed.

"It could be either in Helsinki or in London," Rinne told Finnish media.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet Johnson on Wednesday in a pre-scheduled encounter.

Rinne told Finnish media from Reykjavik that "it is worth trying to find a way out from the present situation through discussions."

He added though that there is "not much light at this time".

Lowest mortgage interests rates ever still not attractive to Danes

COPENHAGEN Denmark (Xinhua) -- Economic uncertainties created by Brexit and trade tensions are seen as major factors behind an economic slump that has hit the Danish housing market.

Danish banks are full of money, 507 billion Danish Kroner (over 75 billion U.S. dollars).

Money that is sitting stagnant in the bank accounts of Danes making zero interest rate.

The Danish market needs more liquidity, and major financial institutions Nordea, Realkredit Danmark and Totalkredit are offering fixed-interest, 30-year mortgage loans at a staggering all-time low-interest rate of 0.5 percent.

Jyske Bank even introduces negative interest rates for private customers with more than 7.5 million kroner.

The interest rate is minus 0.6 percent unless otherwise agreed, the bank reported here on Tuesday.

The banks believe through these historically low interest rates they will be able to make money from mortgage loan restructuring.

However, despite offering the lowest interest rates in Danish financial history, Danish homeowners are not rushing to add an additional loan to their present home loans.

Many customers are concerned about what restructuring of present loans might entail.

"We are in the process of a huge conversion wave, and the banks are of course also very interested in talking about that.

"Because they make good money every time a new loan is taken up," explained Morten Bruun Pedersen, a senior economist at the Consumer Council, to Danish news Channel TV2.

Common Travel Area not to be affected after Brexit: Boris Johnson

DUBLIN Eire (Xinhua) -- British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday told his Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar that the Common Travel Area (CTA), an arrangement between the two countries to ensure free movement of each other’s citizens in either jurisdiction, will not be affected after Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU).

The promise was made by Johnson during his almost-an-hour-long phone talk with Varadkar on Monday evening, according to a statement from the Irish government.

The news came at a time after Irish media quoted a British government spokesperson as saying earlier in the day that Britain would immediately end freedom of movement for people from the EU after Brexit on Oct. 31.

"The (British) Prime Minister made clear that the Common Travel Area, which long predates the UK and Ireland joining the EU, would not be affected by the ending of freedom of movement after Brexit," said the statement.

Under the CTA, which was first agreed in the early 1920s and has later been updated several times, British and Irish citizens can move freely and reside in either jurisdiction and enjoy associated rights and entitlements including access to employment, healthcare, education, social benefits, and the right to vote in certain elections.

"The CTA was recognized in the EU-UK negotiations and there is agreement in the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is an integral part of the Withdrawal Agreement, that Ireland and the UK may ‘continue to make arrangements between themselves relating to the movement of persons between their territories’," says the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in a note posted on its website.

During the phone talk, Johnson and Varadkar also discussed other issues relating to Brexit and Northern Ireland, and they both agreed to meet for further discussions in Dublin in early September, said the statement.

No substantive progress has been made in the talk between the two leaders over the Brexit issue judging the content of the statement.

Johnson insisted in the talk that the backstop must be removed from the Withdrawal Agreement while Varadkar reiterated that the Withdrawal Agreement can not be reopened, according to the statement.


German finance ministry expects hard Brexit as 'high probability'


Angela Merkel and Boris Johnson agree on a 'Brexit' goal - but not how to reach it?



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