UK International Trade Secretary Dr. Liam Fox hosted several events designed to reinforce the economic relationship between the UK and the USA. The events took place on October 22, 2018 on board the UK’s Royal Navy’s HMS Queen Elizabeth, docked in New York Harbor.
The New York events come in the wake of the announcement by the US Treasury Secretary, Robert Lighthizer, that the US will commence talks with the UK to forge a new US-UK Free Trade Agreement to go into effect when the UK leaves the European Union.
The Department for International Trade presented a round-table discussion including some of the UK’s key computer companies. They presented their new technological advances to several US Fortune 500 companies in the hopes of forging some business partnerships.
The Secretary, Dr. Fox, spoke during the proceedings. He emphasized the ability of the UK to protect against serious cyber threats as they grow in number and danger. He announced a new sub-committee of the Board of Trade which will investigate what methods UK companies can use to grow the amount of imports in the cyber space, and how UK-US cooperation can improve the fight against cyber-attacks.
The floating backdrop of the great ship helped set the stage for Dr. Fox’s joining with the Maritime UK to host the very first Maritime Nations Forum between the US and the UK. The forum focused on the ways these two great sea-faring nations can improve maritime trade and relations.
Smyth Toys, a company based in Galway, Ireland, has agreed to purchase some of the European divisions of Toys ‘R’ Us. This is Smyth’s first time selling on the mainland of Europe. When the deal is implemented Smyth will run 93 brick and mortar shops and four online stores in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
The buyer was found by Lazard, an investment bank, which was employed to look for buyers for Toys ‘R’ Us international subsidiaries after the giant US retailer filed for bankruptcy in March.
Smyths was founded in County Mayo and is owned by four brothers from Galway; Tommie, Tony, Liam and Padraig Smyth. The brothers own 21 stores in the Republic of Ireland and an additional 90 or so in Britain and Northern Ireland. The company has been growing quickly since 2007 when it entered the UK market, and is planning on opening more shops in Luton and Dundee in the near future.
Toys ‘R’ Us announced in January that it was going to close about 20% of its US stores as part of its strategy to come out of one of the largest in history bankruptcies by a specialty retailer. The plan did not work out and the Toys ‘R’ Us subsidiary in Britain was forced to close all 100 shops after not finding a buyer.
A bid was made on the Canadian division of the toy retailer by Fairfax Financial Holdings for $300 million.
In a further effort to help people save more time, the UK is enabling banking customers to deal with their banking through their mobile phones. According to a recent article in Mobile Marketing Watch, anyone who owns a smartphone now has the option of mobile financial management.
Time Saving Opportunity
Through the phone, customers are able to enjoy services like balancing their account and reviewing transactions – anything that they might ordinarily have had to gone into the bank for previously. This of course makes things much easier and less time consuming. And since time is money, it has to be good for the economy too.
According to a new survey conducted through Antenna, approximately 1 out of 4 UK smartphone owners “now utilize their phone for mobile banking – which is broadly defined as an array of services spanning account balance inquiries to transaction reviews.” Indeed, Him Hemmer, the company’s Chief Executive, told Reuters, “consumers, particularly younger ones, had little loyalty for which bank they used and therefore the banks could attract more customers if they improved their offerings.”
These days, technology and accessibility is constantly increasing. Through this, there will be an escalation in mobile banking users. More and more people will start relying exclusively on this type of banking. As Hemmer told Reuters, “mobile banking has now taken hold. People want to take care of their banking when it makes sense to them and not when a branch is open. So banks have to rethink their model. There is not as much brand loyalty as there used to be and so they really have to think about the service they offer.”