• Business feels a little brighter on Brexit: According to a poll of 700 company directors conducted in March by the Institute of Directors, optimism about the UK’s economy has been higher than at any time since the UK government triggered Article 50 last March. A similar finding can be seen in the Deloitte survey of 106 UK chief financial officers released on Monday. The increased business confidence can be attributed to recent positive developments including the EU’s agreement that sufficient progress had been made in the first phase of Brexit talks for the negotiations to move on to trade, and the announcement last month that there would be a 21-month transition after March 2019. However, concerns remained amongst the business sector about the prospects of post-Brexit UK economy and staff recruitment in the UK. (The Financial Times / The Independent)
  • Brexit Trade Talks Slowed by Irish Border Fight: At a round of talks between the UK and EU due next week, which will be the first formal discussion on post-Brexit relationship, EU officials do not expect there to be serious talks about trade until June as they have already signalled that reaching a solution on the Irish border issue shall be a priority. So far the only plan on the table for keeping an invisible Irish border after Brexit is the EU’s “backstop” option, which means keeping Northern Ireland within the customs union and single market, but that would amount to erecting a border between Northern Ireland and the rest of UK, which the UK Prime Minister Theresa May considers unacceptable. The three-day talk will cover the Irish border and withdrawal issues as well as the future relationship between UK and EU. (Bloomberg)
  • UK Brand May Not Be Enough to Woo Food Importers Post Brexit: In a survey conducted by the UK’s Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board across nine countries including Canada, China and India, 34 percent of consumers had never bought British food products. 43 percent of respondents in the survey didn’t have any specific associations with British food and only a fifth had a positive perception of it. Still, 37 percent indicated they would pay a premium for British food. About 4,500 consumers were surveyed in countries in North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. (Bloomberg)