This week, UK officials released a strategic approach for securing an FTA (Free Trade Agreement) with the US. The country continues to seek new leverage in the markets following Brexit. Importantly, the documentation includes a significant section dedicated to the digital economy and how to further its development. Specifically, UK officials list blockchain technology as an area of cooperation between the two nations.
The document explains the reasoning behind removing trade barriers with the US. It lists access to better jobs, higher wages, more choice, and lower prices as the main motivation behind the move. The document makes some bold predictions concerning the benefits of this type of trade agreement.
For one, the paper states that an FTA would increase trade between both countries by £15.3 billion annually. Also, the agreement could see an increase in UK workers’ wages by £1.8 billion respectively. Additionally, the deal would lower prices on key consumer goods imported from the US currently.
The paper points out that the US is the UK’s largest trading partner. As such, UK -US trade accounted for around £220.9 billion last year. Statistics show that 19.8% of all exports from the UK are bound for the US. Importantly, there are already 30,000 Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the UK trading with the US as part of their core business model.
The document shed some light on where and how these imports fit into the larger picture. Around 62% of all US goods imported into the UK and 42% of all UK goods exported into the US become used in supply chains. As such, both countries share a large workforce. Notably, the UK and the US have £700 billion invested in each other’s economies currently.
FTA on Digital Economy
As part of the reasoning for an FTA agreement with the US, the document cited the critical role the digital economy plays. The paper states that “Digital trade underpins the UK economy. ” Consequently, UK officials seek to give priority to new cutting-edge digital technologies such as blockchain.
The document outlines how UK officials will seek trade provisions, that could maximize opportunities in hi-tech fields. Specifically, the paper mentions blockchain, driverless cars, and quantum tech as main areas of focus. In these areas, the UK hopes to use its new partnership to shape global rules through ambitious digital trade deals.
The UK continues to be an industry leader in the blockchain sector. Currently, the country is home to some of the biggest players in the game. These mega-firms include Blockchain and Blockverify, just to name a few. The country’s regulators have taken a hands-off approach to the market. In this manner, they chose to not stifle innovation in the industry.
Now, regulators welcome an opportunity to bring together the UK and US’s blockchain sectors via the USFTA. If successful, the UK tech sector could experience a huge boost in capabilities and funding. The paper lists that businesses across the economy and the country will benefit greatly from the added access to new technologies and data flows.
All of the UK Can Benefit
The FTA agreement details also include specifics on how exactly each part of the UK could benefit. Northern Ireland stands to benefit through large reductions of tariffs for its key industries. These lowered tariffs would give industries such as Scottish salmon and Scotch Whisky a huge boost. Also, the agreement would reduce the cost of high-end American goods such as cashmere and designer clothing.
The Midlands would also receive a significant boost in revenue. Currently, one in five of all exports from the region goes to the US. The North of England stands to gain a lot through the increase of key US exports. These products include machinery, road vehicles, manufactured products, exports of luxury clothing. The area would also gain more market access for lamb and dairy produce.
Wales – FTA
Wales, who is also a major lamb and dairy producer, would see an increase in market activity. The region would now get reduced tariffs and export burdens on the automotive sector. The Welsh steel and ceramics sectors could see a significant boost from this move.
Notably, South West UK already has a very strong trading relationship with the US. As such, the region can build on its strong bond via key industries such as emerging technology, machinery, dairy, and beef. Easing US customs procedures for SMEs exporting luxury sports equipment, marine equipment and beverages is another perk the region will gain.
The report states that the East of England will benefit from reductions surrounding the region’s medicinal products. Notably, local consumers gain big savings on popular US-imported food and drink. Additionally, London and the South East will see some of the largest growth from the agreement. Analysts believe the FTA will bolster the UK’s “dynamic and globally competitive” professional business services sector. Officials believe that new digital trade and copyright frameworks will give innovative UK tech firms a leg up on the competition.
Positive Impact on Households
The report goes into more detail on the effects of the FTA. When discussing personal households, the impact is seen as positive. An FTA would increase the living standards for households across the UK due to potential wage rises combined with reduced prices for goods. Both of these advantages come from raised productivity.
Not on the Table
As a means to settle public concern, the document states that the National Health Service (NHS) “is not, and never will be, for sale.” Those opposed to the new trade deal with the US have cited the privatized US health care system as one of the main reasons why the UK should be wary of any FTAs with the country.
Brexit = Blockchain Entrance
The UK is eager to regain some of its lost colonial glory. Securing an FTA with the world’s largest economy would give the country the boost needed to achieve its goals. The fact that blockchain technology received a specific mention speaks volumes to the advancements made in the industry globally. For now, the UK needs a strong trade agreement to keep its markets relevant in the coming years.
Forex Market Boosted by Record US Jobs Data
- Payroll Data Smashes Expectation for June
- USD/JPY Increases on Optimism
- Asian Markets also Open Strong on Friday
US markets received an unexpected but welcome boost on Thursday. The release of nonfarm payroll numbers showed that the economy added a huge number of additional jobs beyond expectation. Unemployment numbers also fell. The positive ripple from this has been felt in the forex market around the world with early trading in Asia showing the Japanese Yen up slightly, and a positive start to the day in China, where PMIs came in strong, and other parts of Asia.
Largest Single Month Job Gain in US History
The numbers reported yesterday in terms of US nonfarm payrolls have easily eclipsed previous highs in terms of being the largest single month job gain the country has ever seen. Analysts had forecast a still impressive gain of 2.9 million jobs added, though the actual number came in much greater at 4.8m. This was quickly heralded by President Trump as a sign of the “economy roaring back”. Wall Street also reacted positively on the back of the news, with the Dow Jones rising more than 400 points.
The Labor Department also confirmed that unemployment had fallen more than expected, to a number of 11.1%. This is the lowest since the coronavirus pandemic started. Though these numbers may not paint an entirely accurate picture since they fail to capture the period when states started to rollback their reopening measures, they have still provided a timely economic boost.
JPY Moves Slightly Higher but Remains Hampered
The USD/JPY is one of the most traded markets in the world. Forex brokers though have noted that the market has been trading without much direction for some time. The pair was boosted slightly to a high of just below 108 on news that the US jobs data had come in much better than expected. This positive move was tempered with caution though amid the increasing concern with COVID-19 cases increasing across many American states.
As a well-known safe haven currency in times of difficulty itself, it may be some time before those forex trading the Yen feel like moving out of that safety zone. Later today, Japan will publish their own bank services PMIs from June. Should this number come in greater than expected, it may provoke an additional boost in the market.
Chinese and Other Asian Markets Positive
Yesterday’s positive news from the US has extended into the Asian trading session on Friday. Markets opened strongly across the Asia Pacific region. The Shanghai Composite index jumped almost 1.5% in early trading, with major indices in Japan, South Korea, and Australia, also displaying positive signs.
Markets were further buoyed by the release of Chinese PMI data from the services sector which showed a number of 58.4 for June. This would indicate the sector is growing at the fastest rate since 2010 after much of China returned to normal activity in the month of June.
Canada Day Special
July 1st represents Canada Day in the Great White North. As such, we thought that a quick look at a few Canadian companies involved in digital securities would be appropriate today.
To date, Canada has been one of the leading countries surrounding anything blockchain related. We have seen government adoption, the creation of Ethereum, the first Bitcoin fund listed on a major exchange, and rumblings of a potential central bank digital currency. The following are a few examples of Canadian based endeavours.
Bank of Canada
The Bank of Canada is one of the few of its kind to release official statements regarding the release of a CBDC. It has been established that, while there are no immediate plans for the release of a CBDC, the bank fully intends on being prepared for this, eventuality. This was first made apparent through job postings, such as ‘CBDC Project Manager’, but later through direct commentary.
In recent weeks, the Bank of Canada has gone so far as releasing an ‘analytical note’, which discusses the privacy needs of a potential CBDC. While they note that the goal is to attain privacy, akin to what cash affords its users, currently technology, such as zero-knowledge proofs, are not appropriate, and that both maturation and national-scale implementation first need to occur.
While it may be years before a Canadian CBDC is actually launched, the Bank of Canada is at least making sure the nation is ready for that day.
Operating out of Toronto, Blockstation is a young company, rife with potential. The team behind Blockstation has developed a suite of services which leverage blockchain technology. These services were built to allow “…the traditional financial ecosystem to get in on digital assets, including Bitcoin, Ether, and Tokenized IPOs (Security Token Offerings, or STOs)”
The hard work that went in to establishing these capabilities has not gone unnoticed, as Blockstation has successfully partnered with multiple stock exchanges. One such pilot will soon see the launch of at least 4 tokenized IPOs on the Jamaica Stock Exchange.
To learn about Blockstation in more detail, make sure to peruse our exclusive interview with CEO, Marko Hafez.
This Canadian outfit has recently received the greenlight by the regulatory body ‘Ontario Securities Commission (OSC)’, for the launch of a secondary marketplace.
Dubbed FreedomX, this anticipated marketplace will be one of the first of its kind in Canada. It will offer a home for digital securities to actively be traded, providing higher levels of asset liquidity in the process.
Beyond just operating a regulated secondary marketplace, TokenGX is also working to establish, and deploy, a stablecoin. This will be utilized as the primary means of settlement on FreedomX, and would be tethered to the Canadian Dollar.
The first release by Canada Stablecorp is known as QCAD. This is a CAD backed digital asset, which was structured as such for 3 main reasons.
- Provide its users with easy access to a digital asset, which can provide a reprieve from market volatility.
- Give Canadians a ‘home-grown’ variant; A trait which should appeal to Canadian investors looking to support Canadian companies.
- Leveraging the strength, and stability, of CAD. The Canadian dollar is typically accepted on a world stage, and benefits from a nation which typically remains removed from divisive world events.
While QCAD has not established itself to the extent shown by Tether, GUSD, and USDC, the potential is there.
Onwards and Upwards
Unfortunately, not all of the promising companies coming out of Canada could be discussed here today. Those discussed represent a fraction of the activity taking place in the great white north.
If one thing is clear from this activity, it is that Canada has been/is playing an important role in the forwarding of blockchain and the digital securities sector.
Happy Canada Day!
A Month in Review – June 2020
June provided us with a steady stream of developments, surrounding the digital securities sector. We saw new regulations, new platforms and services, and the demise of various others.
Regulatory Advances and Findings
Multiple regulatory bodies made news in June. This was first evident with the anticipated release of findings by the OSC, pertaining to the QuadrigaCX fiasco. South of the border, the SEC was no stranger to making waves. Not only did the Supreme Court weigh in on SEC capabilities, but news broke of the possible exodus of Chairman, Jay Clayton.
Pivots and Bankruptcies
Blockchain and digital securities are both in their infancy. As such, companies developing services around each are still finding their footing. This was on full display throughout June, as multiple companies announced either their imminent closure, or a pivoting focus.
DeFi continues to convince many that it is the first ‘killer app’ surrounding cryptocurrencies. Various companies involved with digital securities are trying to emulate this success, and find the perfect implementation for the technology. A few of these companies are banking on real estate being the perfect avenue for achieving this.
For examples of this, look no further than the recent actions of companies like Vertalo, Tokensoft, and Tokai Tokyo.
In The News
We have touched on the effects of COVID-19 various times since the beginning of the pandemic. While many have been hit hard by its effects, there are those that have made the best of a bad situation. A prime example of this is the recent successes of crowdfunding platform SeedInvest.
“Unlike venture capital firms, online fundraising platforms are perfectly situated to help startups in the current, post-COVID-19 world we are in. Online fundraising platforms are not dependent on capital from a handful of pensions and endowments, but rather a large, diverse network of investors (SeedInvest has had over 350,000 investors register for example).” – Ryan Feit, CEO of SeedInvest
Borys Pikalov, Head of Business Analytics at STOBox, took the time to pen his thoughts on what it will take for security tokens to realize their potential liquidity. This insightful article elaborates on, not only what constitutes a security token, but why they are important, and how true liquidity can be achieved.
Hirander Misra, Chairman of GMEX Group & SECDX
In this exclusive interview, we learn about the bevy of services on offer from each, GMEX Group and SECDX. Whether discussing custodial services, or strategic investments, Hirander Misra sheds light on why, and how, each company is affecting change. Read More
Around the Web
Nasdaq’s New PLatform Backed by R3, Digital Asset, Symbiont and Microsoft May Not Be What Your Think It – Forbes
To date, much of development behind blockchain and digital securities has been achieved by smaller, flexible companies. This is changing with time, though, as we are now seeing adoption among more established companies. Forbes recently touched on this, and the various benefits behind tokenization, which have captivated the imaginations of companies like Microsoft. Read More