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Light installations are seen in Chiswick House Gardens during the switching-on ceremony of Magical Lantern Festival in London | Coastweek

LONDON United Kingdom (Xinhua) -- Light installations are seen in Chiswick House Gardens during the switching-on ceremony of Magical Lantern Festival in London. Fascinating night views, various evening activities and convenient transportation in London offer people a vibrant night life. XINHUA PHOTO - HAN YAN


German finance ministry expects hard Brexit as 'high probability'

by Moritz Rommerskirchen BERLIN (Xinhua) -- According to a report by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Finance, the German government is assuming that Britain will leave the European Union (EU) without a treaty, German newspaper Handelsblatt reported on Thursday.

Handelsblatt is quoting from the ministry report that sees a "high probability" for a disorderly Brexit on Oct. 31 and argues that EU member states must take the scenario of a no deal exit seriously because British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is insisting on an exit agreement without a backstop.

The backstop proposed by the EU would see the whole of Britain remain in the EU customs union and is consequently opposed by Brexit hardliners in the UK.

The German Federal Ministry of Finance is expecting Britain to create a "big moment" at the G7 summit in Biarritz at the end of August and to either announce the breakthrough or failure of the negotiations.

"Against this background, it is important from an EU perspective to stick to the previous line," Handelsblatt quoted the ministry report.

Additionally, even if the backstop would be removed from the phase-out treaty, as British PM Johnson demanded, the German ministry was not sure that the British government would receive approval from the parliament.

In line with the German assessment, preparations for a disorderly Brexit on the German and EU sides would be "largely completed", according to the ministry report.

Already, the German government has adopted more than fifty laws and measures in the event of a disorderly Brexit.

In the report, the finance ministry is listing transitional regulations in the area of taxes and finances such as an agreement on cross-border financial services between the German financial supervisory authority (Bafin) and the British financial conduct authority (FCA).

In the customs administration, a "selective increase in clearance and control effort" is to be expected.

The German finance ministry is planning to absorb the extra work load by "flexible personnel deployment" and "IT-supported optimization".

Britain reiterates willingness to talk over Brexit deal

LONDON United Kingdom (Xinhua) -- The British government said on Tuesday that it wants to negotiate a new Brexit deal with Brussels amid accusations that there is "no basis" for such talks momentarily.

A 10 Downing Street spokesperson told Xinhua via email that:

"The PM wants to meet EU (European Union) leaders and negotiate a new deal—one that abolishes the anti-democratic backstop."

"We will throw ourselves into the negotiations with the greatest energy and the spirit of friendship and we hope the EU will rethink its current refusal to make any changes to the Withdrawal Agreement," the spokesperson added.

"The fact is the Withdrawal Agreement has been rejected by Parliament three times and will not pass in its current form so—if the EU wants a deal—it needs to change its stance. Until then, we will continue to prepare to leave the EU on 31 October," the spokesperson said.

The latest comments came after the EU said Britain’s demands to remove the Irish backstop from Theresa May’s deal were unacceptable.

A senior EU official was quoted as saying that there was currently "no basis" for "meaningful discussions" and talks were back where they were three years ago.

The withdrawal agreement negotiated by May has been rejected three times by the British parliament.

Britain is set to leave the EU by Oct. 31.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged to leave the EU by the deadline with or without a deal.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledges 300 million pounds
to give "awesome foursome" massive economic boost

by Larry Neild LONDON United Kingdom (Xinhua) -- Prime Minister Boris Johnson started a whistle-stop tour of Britain in Scotland Monday as part of a drive to promote the four regions of Britain he has referred to as the "awesome foursome".

Johnson launched a new package of Growth Deal funding worth 300 million pounds (367 million U.S. dollars)as he kicked off his tour of Britain with a visit to the Royal Navy’s base at Faslane on the Cylde, home of Britain’s nuclear deterrent submarines, according to Downing Street.

He told journalists there that he plans for Britain to leave the European Union on Oct. 31, saying the Irish border backstop issue is now dead, and calling for a new deal with Brussels.

Although Johnson insists Britain will leave the EU without a deal on that date if necessary, he said he hoped "common sense will prevail" and a new deal worked out between London and Brussels.

Ahead of his visit to Glasgow, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon issued a strong message Monday to Johnson.

Sturgeon said: "The people of Scotland did not vote for this Conservative Government, they didn’t vote for this new prime minister, they didn’t vote for Brexit and they certainly didn’t vote for a catastrophic no-deal Brexit which Boris Johnson is now planning for."

Johnson and Sturgeon were scheduled to have face-to-face talks later Monday.

Johnson is also planning a trip to Wales to meet members of the local farming community, while in Northern Ireland he will discuss the ongoing talks with political parties in a bid to restore the devolved government which hasn’t sat for over two years.

In his first speeches as Britain’s new prime minister Johnson has spoken of his determination to ensure no corner of the United Kingdom is left behind.

Johnson said Monday:

"Our Union is the most successful political and economic union in history.

"We are a global brand and together we are safer, stronger and more prosperous.

"So as we prepare for our bright future after Brexit, it’s vital we renew the ties that bind our United Kingdom.

"I’m proud to be in Scotland to make clear that I am a passionate believer in our great Union, and I look forward to visiting Wales and Northern Ireland to ensure that every decision I make as Prime Minister promotes and strengthens our Union."

Johnson said he is also committed to working closely with the devolved administrations in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast to roll the Growth Deals out to every region of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Johnson added:

"As I said when I stood on the steps of Downing Street last week, it is time that we unleashed the productive power not just of London and the South East but of every corner of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

"Important projects like government’s Growth Deals will open up opportunities across our Union so people in every corner of the United Kingdom can realise their potential." (1 British pound =1.22 U.S. dollars).

United Kingdom financial system resilient to
disorderly Brexit - assures Bank of England

LONDON United Kingdom (Xinhua) -- The United Kingdom’s (UK) financial system is resilient to and prepared for a wide range of risks, including a worst-case disorderly Brexit, the Bank of England (BoE) said in a statement on Thursday.

According to the BoE’s regular "Financial Stability Report and Record," the UK’s banking system remains strong enough to "continue to lend through the wide range of UK economic and financial shocks that could be associated with Brexit".

"The perceived likelihood of no-deal Brexit has increased since the start of the year," it said.

The report stated that foreign investment into the UK was much weaker in the first quarter of 2019 than in recent years, adding that the "increased Brexit uncertainties ... led to a decline in the sterling exchange rate and an underperformance of UK-focused equities."

"Despite continued signs of strong risk appetite from creditors and lenders," the bank said that "total UK private non-financial sector credit growth has not been rapid and debt servicing burdens remain low".

"Most risks to UK financial stability from disruption to cross-border financial services in a no-deal Brexit have been mitigated," it said.

The BoE said that the UK banking system remained resilient to global risks, even though these have increased during the first half of this year.

"Even if a protectionist-driven global slowdown were to spill over to the UK at the same time as a worst-case disorderly Brexit, ... the core UK banking system would be strong enough to absorb, rather than amplify, the resulting economic shocks," the BoE said.

British stockpiling goods in preparation for a possible 'No-deal' Brexit

by Shuai Anning LONDON United Kingdom (Xinhua) -- The British have already spent 4.81 billion U.S. dollars stockpiling goods in preparation for a possible no-deal Brexit in October, according to a latest survey.

Conducted by finance provider Premium Credit, the survey found that one in five British people has spent an extra 458 U.S. dollars hoarding goods ahead of the Oct. 31 deadline.

Of those stockpiling, 74 percent said they bought extra food, 50 percent bought medicines, and 46 percent drinks.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged to implement Brexit on the deadline with or without a deal.

Many fear that if Britain does leave the EU without a deal, there is likely a supply shortage.

Only 53 percent of the food consumed in Britain is domestically produced.

Most of the imported food comes from the EU, according to government statistics.

A Brexit in late autumn would make the shortage worse as it coincides with the end of the British agricultural growing season.

The number of luxury cars imported into Britain from the EU also increased by 16 percent in the past year, according to the law firm Boodle Hatfield.

The rise has been attributed to the prospect of added taxes in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

"A no-deal Brexit could mean luxury car imports become 32 percent more expensive overnight," Fred Clark, associate at Boodle Hatfield said.

Boris Johnson reveals fast-track Visa plan to woo foreign scientists after Brexit

LONDON United Kingdom (Xinhua) -- British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday unveiled a new fast-track visa plan to attract "the very best minds from around the world" in a bid to boost the country’s science sector after Brexit.

Unveiling the plans of a shake-up of the British immigration rules on a visit to the Culham Science Centre in Oxfordshire, Johnson said that he wanted to ensure the country’s immigration system to attract best foreign scientists.

The British Home Office and the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy have been instructed by the prime minister to work with the scientific community to develop the new visa route, which the British government hopes to launch later this year.

The proposals come after the Wellcome Trust, a leading charity and medical research institute, warned the prime minister that a no-deal Brexit threatened the science sector.

"Britain has a proud history of innovation, with home-grown inventions spanning from the humble bicycle to the lightbulb," Johnson said.

"But to ensure we continue to lead the way in the advancement of knowledge, we have to not only support the talent that we already have here, but also ensure our immigration system attracts the very best minds from around the world," he said.

The fast-track immigration route will be designed to attract researchers and specialists working in science, engineering and technology.

Options that the British government said could be discussed with institutions and universities include abolishing the 2,000-per-year cap on the number of Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visas.

Other potential changes include expanding the pool of British research institutions that can endorse immigration candidates and creating criteria that confers automatic endorsement, subject to immigration checks.

The government will also look at ensuring workers’dependants have full access to the labour market, removing the need to hold an offer of employment before arriving and providing an accelerated path to settlement.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson assures
full respect for Portuguese in UK: media

LISBON Portugal (Xinhua) -- British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday called his Portuguese counterpart Antonio Costa and pledged "full respect" for the Portuguese residents in the United Kingdom after the Brexit, Portuguese Lusa News Agency reported.

In what was the first contact since the leader of the British Conservative Party took over as prime minister last July, Johnson expressed "a great desire to strengthen bilateral relations with Portugal" after the Brexit, said a source of the Prime Minister’s office, quoted by Lusa.

"Both prime ministers agreed that it was very important to strengthen bilateral relations, namely in the areas of science and technology, sea and defense", since they are both European and Atlantic countries, said the source.

In their phone call, Johnson also reiterated the "position of the British government to reach an agreement to leave the EU by October 31" as planned, the source said.

In late July, Conservative party leader Boris Johnson was appointed British Prime Minister by Queen Isabel II following the formal resignation of Theresa May due to the difficulty of completing the Brexit process, and was sworn in as the 14th prime minister of Elizabeth II’s reign.

The United Kingdom had planned to leave the EU on March 29 this year, but later the Brexit was postponed until Oct. 31.

Boris Johnson to meet Varadkar in Dublin for talks over Brexit

DUBLIN Ireland (Xinhua) -- British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has accepted an offer from his Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar to meet in Dublin for talks over Brexit and Northern Ireland, reported local semi state-owned media RTE on Sunday.

The report quoted a spokesman for the Irish prime minister as saying that contact is under way between both sides to work out the details about the visit.

"The Taoiseach (Irish word for prime minister) has invited the British Prime Minister to Dublin for talks on Northern Ireland and Brexit. Their offices are in contact to agree a date for these talks in the coming weeks," the spokesman said in a statement.

The statement said that the meeting would give both sides a better understanding of their respective positions.

However, it reiterated that the backstop and the Withdrawal Agreement are not up for discussion in the coming meeting.

It also indicated that the meeting will not discuss any changes to the political declaration as they are matters between the European Union (EU) and Britain.

The report about the agreed meeting between Johnson and Varadkar came after the latter raised the idea in a phone conversation about two weeks ago.

Johnson has insisted that he won’t meet EU leaders for talks until the backstop is dropped.

However, he has also promised that " under no circumstances" there will be a hard border on the island of Ireland.

The backstop refers to an arrangement with no time limit insisted by the EU side to avoid customs houses and other physical border infrastructure between Ireland and Britain’s Northern Ireland after Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, which Boris Johnson has vowed to deliver for the British pro-Brexit voters by the end of this October with or without a deal with the EU.

New private car sales in Ireland down nearly ten percent in July

DUBLIN Ireland (Xinhua) -- A total of 18,741 units of new private cars were sold in Ireland in July, down 9.7 percent compared with the same month of last year, latest figures from the country’s national statistics bureau CSO showed.

The declining rate for the July sales outpaced the negative growth rate of 7.1 percent reported by the CSO in the country’s total sales of new private cars in the first seven months of this year, indicating a possible further shrink in new private car sales in the near future.

In the first seven months of this year, a total of 96,380 new private cars were sold in Ireland, according to the CSO figures.

Despite the drop in the July new private car sales, the sales of second-hand private cars in the month witnessed a strong growth.

A total of 9,203 used private cars were sold across the country in July, up by 12.2 percent compared with a year ago, bringing the total sales of such vehicles in the first seven months of this year to 60,897 units, which represented a year-on-year growth of 4.1 percent, said the CSO.

Local media quoted dealers as saying the recent further drop in the value of British pounds against euros over the Brexit uncertainties is one of the factors contributing to the growth in the used private car sales on the local market.

The CSO figures also showed that in July Toyota was the most popular make among all new private cars sold in the country with the month’s sales figure standing at 2,344 units, trailed by Volkswagen (2,118), Hyundai (1,671), Skoda (1,435) and Ford (1,299).

The combined sales of the top five selling makes accounted for 47.3 percent of all the new private cars sold in the country in July.

The CSO also said that the share of electric and hybrid vehicles in all the new private cars sold in Ireland in the first seven months increased by four percentage points to 10.6 percent from 6.6 percent in the same period of 2018.

Cyprus says ready to face impact of hard Brexit

NICOSIA Cyprus (Xinhua) -- Cyprus is ready to face the impact of a no-deal Brexit, government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said on Friday.

"A possible withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union without an agreement on Oct. 31 will be damaging, but the government has taken all necessary measures to deal with such an eventuality," Prodromou said, when asked to comment on the British government’s decision to lead the country out of EU with or without an agreement.

The spokesman said that Nicosia, along with all other EU countries, considers that there can be no other agreement than the one reached after arduous and long negotiations between the two parties.

Prodromou said that an agreement between Cyprus and the government of the United Kingdom in case of a hard Brexit is a good one, as it safeguards Britons living in Cyprus and Cypriots in Britain and also regulates the relations between the two countries.

He said that in case of a Brexit outside the general agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union, the bilateral agreement between London and Nicosia must come into effect.

The agreement, beyond regulating the rights of Britons in Cyprus and Cypriots in Britain, also regulates relations between Cyprus and the British bases in Cyprus and the rights of about 11,000 Cypriots living or working within the British Sovereign Bases in Cyprus.

Britain retained two regions of Cyprus totaling 253 square kilometers as part of the 1960 Treaties leading to the independence of Cyprus from the colonial rule, which have the status of British soil, to use as military bases.

Global economic climate "clouded over": German economic institute

by Moritz Rommerskirchen BERLIN (Xinhua) -- The world economic climate "has clouded over," Germany’s Institute for Economic Research (Ifo) announced on Monday.

The Ifo barometer fell by 7.7 points to minus 10.1 points, according to the Munich-based institute, based on its quarterly survey of around 1.200 experts from 116 countries.

"The intensification of the trade conflict is having a considerable impact on the global economy," said Ifo President Clemens Fuest.

The experts assessed the current economic situation more negatively than at the beginning of 2017 and had lowered their expectations for the coming six months, according to Ifo.

The economic climate had deteriorated in all regions of the world and experts had revised both the assessment of the situation and expectations downwards for the advanced economies and the Asian emerging and developing economies, the German economic research institute noted.

In Latin America, the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Middle East and North Africa, only the assessment was less favorable while estimates for the months ahead remained broadly unchanged.

"Experts expect significantly weaker growth in world trade.

"Trade expectations are at their lowest level since the outbreak of the trade conflict last year," stated Fuest.

Respondents to the German institute’s quarterly survey also expected "weaker private consumption, lower investment activity and declining short-term and long-term interest rates".

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) had lowered its growth forecasts for the global economy three times this year, most recently in July from 3.3 to 3.2 percent. In 2018, the global economy had grown by 3.6 percent.

The IMF had stressed that it was an "urgent necessity" to rapidly reduce tensions in the areas of trade and technology.

Uncertainty about future trade relations between Britain and the European Union should also be cleared as soon as possible as a disorderly Brexit could "weigh" on the world economy, according to the IMF.

Global headwinds slow down Dutch economic growth

by Jesse Wieten THE HAGUE (Xinhua) -- The economic growth in the Netherlands is likely to decline to 1.4 percent by 2020, mainly due to a negative international economic climate, the CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis announced in its CPB’s August Projections 2020 on Thursday.

"Dutch economic growth will decline, due to the ill wind sweeping in from abroad," the CPB said in a press release.

"The substantial downward economic risks have increased further. United States trade policy and the responses to this policy, the growing possibility of a chaotic Brexit, and the political developments in Italy are all significant threats to the Dutch economy."

With the projected economic growth of 1.4 percent the Dutch economic growth continues the trend of the past years with a gross domestic product of 2.9 percent in 2017, 2.6 in 2018 and 1.8 in 2019.

"The economic turning point is behind us," CPB’s director Laura van Geest added in the press release.

"The pace is slowing down.

"Unemployment will remain low, but employment growth will level off, substantially, in particular in the market sector.

"The Dutch economy is driven predominately by domestic spending, exports are affected by the fallout from developments in other countries."

According to the CPB, unemployment will reach its lowest level in 2019, with 310,000 persons unemployed, and will continue to be exceptionally low in 2020, with a total of 335,000.

In addition, purchasing power will see a positive development in 2020, due to increases in real wages and, to a lesser extent, policy measures.

Inflation will go down 1.3 percent in 2020, from 2.6 in 2019.

On Wednesday the Dutch Central Bureau of Statistics announced that economic growth in the Netherlands increased by 0.5 percent in the second quarter of 2019 compared to Q1 of 2019.

This is the same growth rate as in the previous two quarters. Growth in Q2 2019 was mainly due to increased investments in fixed assets, household consumption and the trade balance.

Austrian farmers concerned about European Union
and the United States beef deal - Industry Group

VIENNA Austria (Xinhua) -- Austrian cattle farmers are concerned that the recently-announced beef deal between the European Union (EU) and the United States could impact their livelihoods, according to an industry interest group.

The deal announced on Friday means that the United States will be able to increase its beef exports to the EU, which will eventually reach up to 35,000 tons annually within seven years.

In response, Werner Habermann, head of Austrian industry representative group Arge Rind, warned of "cheap imports" and urged Austrian consumers to remain loyal by purchasing domestic meat.

Habermann said Austrian beef farmers have already had to contend with cheaper imports from Brazil and Argentina due to the disparity in exchange rates, local media reported.

In addition, a looming Brexit means Irish farmers are trying to develop markets within the EU and are offering low-cost beef. Other countries such as Poland are also exporting more beef to Austria.


Continuing Brexit crisis hogs the Headlines, but its significance to
European Union economy pales in comparison with that of Italy ...



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