• EU trade deal over UK for Japan – Japan is more focused on rubber-stamping the historic Japan-EU economic partnership agreement (the largest the EU has ever signed) rather than pursuing an agreement with post-Brexit Britain. Car giants Nissan, Honda, Toyota and Mitsubishi are among more than 1,000 Japanese firms operating in Britain, employing 160,000 workers in areas such as Sunderland. Japan stated that its firms could leave Britain if a chaotic exit makes it unprofitable for them to remain; some Japanese financial institutions have already applied to set up businesses in Europe after it emerged that the UK would lose passporting rights when it leaves the single market. Under EU rules, the UK cannot begin signing trade deals until it has officially left the union. (The Independent)
  • Swiss bankers’ hopes for EU access dashed by Brexit – The Chairman of the Swiss Bankers Association stated that Brexit has politicised technical talks on encouraging business across the Swiss-EU border, with Brussels fearing that any concessions given now to Switzerland could set a precedent for the Brexit talks. A longstanding ambition of Switzerland has been to improve access via a financial services agreement, but that goal was quietly dropped from their negotiating objectives earlier this year. Another potential flashpoint is access for Switzerland’s alternative investment fund managers, who have hoped that the Swiss regulatory regime would be declared “equivalent” to the EU’s Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive. (The Financial Times)
  • Contract to manufacture “Brexit blue” passports – De La Rue, a British company which has held the contract for producing UK passports since 2009, is initiating a judicial review in the High Court of the Home Office’s provisional decision to allow Gemalto, a Franco-Dutch company, to make new blue national passports from 2019. The Home Office has extended the original deadline for legal challenges from April 3 to April 17 as De La Rue seeks more information from the department on its decision-making process. The awarding of the £490 million contract has been politicised on nationalistic grounds, despite the Home Office’s assertions that the procurement process has been rigorous, fair and open, and that changing the present contractor would save UK taxpayers £120 million. (Reuters)