The boss of J Sainsbury has labelled the Government’s tax take from bricks-and-mortar businesses unfair and unsustainable, calling for a “rebalance” to address the march of online retailers. Justin King, who is a former member of David Cameron’s business advisory board, said that the Chancellor had inadvertently played into the hands of the likes of Amazon by reducing corporation tax at the same time as allowing business rates and national insurance to rise, The Times.
David Cameron was accused of squandering his “last chance” to unleash growth measures in a Queen’s Speech that was focused on delivery rather than a new legislative programme. The Institute of Directors said the Queen’s Speech was a “missed opportunity” for the Coalition to kickstart the economy with radical measures. Other business groups welcomed the “limited” agenda that was dominated by big, delayed policies, including High Speed 2 and the Energy Bill as well as the broader aim to boost the economy, according to The Daily Telegraph.
Europe is gearing up for a fresh trade war with China with plans to impose a levy on billions of pounds worth of imports of cheap solar panels. The European Commission has proposed a tough 47% “anti-dumping” tariff to penalise the imports, it emerged on Wednesday. The move would benefit European manufacturers, who allege their Chinese rivals – whose panels are as much as 45% cheaper – are unfairly subsidised by Beijing. Chinese solar panel production quadrupled between 2009 and 2011, exceeding global demand, and EU manufacturers say China has now captured 80pc of the European market, The Daily Telegraph.
Key energy companies, trading houses and banks have stopped submitting European natural gas quotes to price-reporting agencies, raising questions about the benchmarks that underpin billions of dollars in trading and household energy bills. The price-reporting agencies confirmed some “drop off” in data submission. Price-reporting agencies publish daily benchmark assessments of European hub prices, such as the UK’s NBP and Holland’s TTF, based on conversations with companies. The PRA model, which relies mostly on bid and offer quotes rather than actual transactions, is under scrutiny as regulators rethink benchmark pricing in light of the scandal over the manipulation of Libor rates, the FT.
Japan will be consumed by a debt crisis surpassing the US sub-prime crash, a leading US-based hedge fund manager has warned, telling investors that “the beginning of the end has begun” for Japan’s finances. Over-indebted governments, and especially the precarious state of Japan’s finances, set the tone for the high-profile Ira Sohn investment conference in New York on Wednesday, the FT.