Gay wedding ban sparks cruise boycott call

Carnival Corporation, the cruise firm that owns P&O and Cunard, is facing a boycott from LGBT travellers after halting gay weddings on some ships.

The company was forced to stop allowing same-sex unions on its ships that are registered in Bermuda.

The British Overseas Territory legalised gay weddings in May last year, but the law was repealed last month following a change of government.

That legally prevented Carnival from allowing same-sex ceremonies on board.

A P&O Cruises spokesman said: “Carnival Corporation believes that same sex marriage should be legalised in Bermuda and therefore we are opposed to the new law. We are currently working with local interest groups in Bermuda and elsewhere to explore options in relation to this.”

However, some LGBT activists in Bermuda oppose a tourism boycott of the island. Kenita Placide said many LGBT people work in the tourism industry, while Linda Miezer said a boycott would “cause people to discriminate against the LGBT community”.

Tony Brannon, a Bermudian campaigner, said reinstating the island’s gay wedding ban had “given Bermuda a huge PR black eye”.

Legalisation came about after the Bermuda supreme court ruled that excluding same-sex couples from marriage amounted to discrimination.

The Domestic Partnerships Act was then passed by Bermuda’s House of Assembly and signed into law by the island’s governor John Rankin last month, making Bermuda the first country to revoke gay marriage.

Mr Brannon said a case would be heard by the supreme court in May arguing that the ban violated Bermuda’s constitution.

If the legal challenge was successful, he hoped the government would accept the decision.

As Bermuda is an overseas dependent territory, the UK government could have blocked Bermuda’s move to ban same-sex unions.

However, Foreign Office minister Harriett Baldwin told the Commons last month that it “would not be appropriate to use this power to block legislation, which can only can be used where there is a legal or constitutional basis for doing so, and even then only in exceptional circumstances”.

Labour MP Chris Bryant said Britain’s failure to act “totally undermines UK efforts to advance LGBT rights”.

When Goliath stands to lose every time

First China, then Russia, now South East Asia.

It is starting to sound like a familiar story.

Global taxi-hailing giant Uber enters a new market, with all the brashness and bravado of a bigger, more powerful invader, only to find itself waging a fierce battle on the streets with a home-grown rival, and then ultimately – losing the war.

We had the first inkling that Uber’s global strategy of “barging in” was going awry when it lost the Chinese market to Didi Chuxing back in 2016.

At the time, as I wrote the explanation Uber gave for the China retreat was that it made sense for it to pull out of a market that was obviously so well served by Didi, and that it wasn’t defeat when you end up with a stake in the company.

But remember, the then boss of Uber Travis Kalanick once famously said success in China meant being number one there.

Words he had to swallow evidently, especially as Uber was reportedly losing something like a billion dollars a year in China.

Bad news

Here, in South East Asia, emerges a similar tale.

Grab and Uber have been fighting to the death for market share on the mean streets of the region. It’s not just the ride hailing business for cars that they’re competing in – in countries like Indonesia, motorcycle taxi rides are big business too.

By some estimates, Uber has been losing hundreds of millions of dollars every year in South East Asia – along with its rivals.

All bad news for a company looking to go public in 2019.

“Uber is now under pressure to move towards making money for a 2019 IPO, which has been promised to shareholders,” writes John Colley, of Warwick Business School. “In China, Russia and now South East Asia it has been out-flanked by local competition with better local knowledge and connections.”

That local competition in South East Asia has come in the form of Malaysian business tycoon Anthony Tan. He’s not your usual startup kind of guy, hailing from a family business with a well established network to tap into.

Having grown up in the region he understands the different and diverse nature of South East Asian markets.

Motorbike passengers – or Ojek passengers – in Jakarta for instance, are quite different from taxi-hailing Singaporeans. Customers in Bangkok have starkly differing travelling needs to commuters in Kuala Lumpur. Mr Tan says being based in South East Asia gives him the advantage in solving regional problems.

Mr Tan has also got bigger plans for the young startup, a company that has also managed to attract investment from the likes of Japan’s Softbank, which also owns 15% of Uber.

In Singapore last month, the young and ambitious boss of what has now effectively become South East Asia’s most powerful ride hailing app, told me how he wants Grab to be everything to everyone – across this market of 600 million people.

“We want to be that app that allows you to buy your coffee, earn rewards, then after that you want to buy your lunch and… have your food delivered so you don’t have to go through the traffic jam,” he said.

“When you’re that relevant, that real to every customer across the 600 million base, then you create huge value.”

Soul searching

But Mr Tan can’t afford to be complacent. Even though he’s managed to push Uber out of this market, he’s got a hungrier, leaner upstart to face in the form Go-Jek, Indonesia’s Google and Temasek-backed ride hailing app.

Right now, it’s stuck to home ground, but there are rumours that it might head to the Philippines shortly.

For Uber though, there’s sure to be some soul searching ahead.

This is the third market it’s pulled out of in the last couple of years. The company has been keen to stress that this deal with Grab is a merger of equals – a partnership of sorts.

But the internal email from Uber’s boss Dara Khosrowshahi reveals just how much of a detour the firm may have made in its global strategy.

“One of the potential dangers, of our global strategy,” he writes, “is that we take on too many battles across too many fronts with too many competitors.”

Uber has been quick to stress that there is no more consolidation on the cards – in fact, Uber’s chief says that’s out of the question.

But in the Asian markets Uber is still operating in – Japan, South Korea, and India – it is facing local competition.

And if the experience it’s had out on these streets with homegrown competitors is anything to go by, Uber may be in for a bumpy ride ahead.

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Uber sells South East Asia operations to rival Grab

Uber is selling its South East Asia ride-share and food delivery businesses to regional rival Grab.

The move marks a further retreat from international operations for Uber, after it sold its China business to local rival Didi Chuxing.

Both firms describe the deal as a win for their passengers, but analysts warn it could mean higher prices.

Grab is South East Asia’s most popular ride-sharing firm with millions of users across eight countries.

Under the terms of the deal, Uber will take a 27.5% stake in Singapore-based Grab. Uber’s chief executive, Dara Khosrowshahi, will also join Grab’s board.

The value of the deal has not been made public.

Grab’s chief executive Anthony Tan said the deal “marks the beginning of a new era” in which the merged business would be better placed to serve customers.

Uber’s Mr Khosrowshahi said the deal would “help us double down on our plans for growth as we invest heavily in our products and technology”.

The deal marks Uber’s third retreat after it withdrew from China in 2016 and sold its Russia business to local firm Yandex last year.

Mr Khosrowshahi has been preparing the firm for an initial public offering in 2019.

Uber invested $700m in its Southeast Asia business and another $2bn in China before it sold its operations there.

In November, Mr Khosrowshahi, said the company’s Asian operations were not going to be “profitable any time soon”.

Analysis: Karishma Vaswani, Asia business correspondent

Uber is keen to push the message that this isn’t a retreat from South East Asia – that instead, this is a merger of equals – a partnership of sorts.

But while it’s true that Uber does get a sizeable stake in Grab, it is hard to ignore that this is the third market it is pulling out of. First China, then Russia – now South East Asia.

Look closely at the internal email that Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi sent his staff announcing the deal, and you can see a hint of an acknowledgement that perhaps their global strategy of barging into overseas markets isn’t going as well as Uber had planned.

“One of the potential dangers of our global strategy,” he writes, “Is that we take on too many battles across too many fronts with too many competitors.”

This deal does beg the question what does Uber do next in Asia – because it is only really Japan, South Korea and India that it now operates in – and in all of those markets, it is facing competition of some sort, home grown or otherwise.

If this defeat at Grab’s hands is anything to go by – Uber best be prepared for a tough battle ahead.

Read more from Karishma, here:

Less choice?

Last year, Uber lost $4.5bn (£3.2bn) – and its chief executive – as it underwent a fundamental shake-up following a harassment scandal.

But some fear that its withdrawal from South East Asia could result in higher prices for users there.

“Industry consolidation will mean fewer choices for commuters and fares are likely to trend higher over time,” said Corrine Png, a transport analyst from Singapore-based research firm Crucial Perspective.

Competition in the ride-hailing sector has been fierce, resulting in discounts and promotions offered to riders and drivers reducing profit margins.

But consolidation in the industry was widely expected after Japan’s Softbank Group made a large investment in Uber last year.

SoftBank is a major investor in several of Uber’s rivals including Grab, China’s Didi Chuxing and India’s Ola.

It is believed to have pushed for consolidation in order to improve revenues.

Grab currently operates in eight countries including Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam.

The deal – which is yet to be approved by local regulators – includes the sale of all of Uber’s operations in the region, including its key food delivery service Uber Eats.

As a result of the merger, the GrabFood service will expand from two to four South East Asian countries by next quarter, Grab said.

The company said the deal would help it move towards profitability, and would also help to increase “adoption of the GrabPay mobile wallet and support Grab’s growing Financial Services platform”.

Qantas ‘very disappointed’ by Australian cricket ball-tampering

The boss of a major sponsor of the Australian cricket team has told the BBC he is “is very disappointed” by the ball-tampering controversy.

Alan Joyce, the head of Australian airline Qantas, said he wanted the authorities to urgently complete the inquiry and take “appropriate action”.

Qantas said it was “in discussions” with Cricket Australia.

Australian captain Steve Smith has said he knew of plot to tamper with the ball in a match against South Africa.

He has been banned for one match and fined his entire match fee by cricket’s world governing body for his part in the incident.

Smith said the team’s “leadership group” had a plan, carried out by Cameron Bancroft, to tamper with the ball to “get an advantage”.

  • The key questions facing Australian cricket
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    Mr Joyce told the BBC’s Today programme said: “We are very disappointed. Australia is all about ‘fair go’, and I think all Australians are very disappointed with what’s happened with the cricket team.”

    “We’ve let them know that we want them [the authorities] to urgently complete the investigation and take the appropriate action.”

    Qantas, whose logo is prominent on the Australian team’s shirts, said in a statement: “We are in discussions with Cricket Australia as this issue unfolds.”

    Other sponsors also expressed their dismay.

    Weetbix-maker Sanitarium and brewer Lion, which makes XXXX, said in statements they were considering their relationship with the national team.

    Weetbix, whose relationship is particularly close as Steve Smith is a brand ambassador for it, said: “Certainly it’s under review as the actions taken by the team in South Africa don’t align with our own values – Sanitarium does not condone cheating in sport.”

    Cricket Australia’s latest financial statement show it earned 338.4m Australian dollars (£184.7m) in media, sponsorship and spectator fees.

    Cricket Australia said it would provide an update on the scandal by Tuesday.

Harry Kane and the making of a Premier League football star

The discovery and development of a potential multi-million pound footballer is never smooth or straightforward.

But for professional clubs, finding a young gem who can go on to be a star player, or alternatively be sold at great profit, is good business.

That is particularly true in an era when financial fair play rules across Europe are encouraging clubs to balance the books and nurture home-grown talent.

At Spurs, Harry Kane was valued earlier this year at £172m – not bad for a player who was signed as a teenager for no fee.

That is why top Premier League clubs in England are increasingly using data both to try and discover young players, and also to help develop their playing and physical progress from a young age.

‘Fat kid’

However, as a scout who helped bring England goalscoring star Harry Kane to Tottenham Hotspur reveals, it can be an inexact process, and one in which coaching staff also have to use human qualities and intuition to unearth star material.

“One of the coaches said to me bluntly ‘who is that fat kid?’,” recalls Richard Allen, former head of academy recruitment at White Hart Lane, of Kane’s first days at Spurs as a youngster.

“Harry was 11 at the time, and the truth is he would not have got in the building if we were using physical testing as a determinant.”

Allen, a highly-rated talent spotter who spent eight years at Spurs and who has also worked for QPR and the English FA, says it is hard to immediately identify youngsters who have such high potential they are almost certain to go on to success at the top of the game.

Harry Kane facts

  • Born 28 July 1993
  • Emerged through Spurs Academy
  • Signed for club on 1 July 2009
  • Made debut v Heart of Midlothian in 2011 in Europa League
  • In Spurs top 10 goalscorers ever
  • Won Golden Boot for Premier League top scorer in 2015-16 and 2016-17
  • A regular in the senior England squad
  • Captained national team for first time away to Scotland in June 2017
  • Currently injured but looking to be back in time for World Cup 2018

    “Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney definitely, and Joe Cole was also highly thought of by many,” he says.

    “But players come through in different ways and at different ages. Physically maturing affects high performance at an early age, but others may catch you up.”

    ‘Keen to learn’

    Fortunately for Kane, not only Allen – now director of football at Loughborough University – but other coaches at Tottenham sensed there was something about the youngster.

    However, Allen says that when coaches were assessing what the factors in Kane’s favour were, they were not particularly scientific or numbers driven.

    “So, why did we decide to sign him, because his performances were not always at that high level?” asks Allen.

    “Firstly, his ball striking was good, he always scored goals. He could hit the ball cleanly and he could score, so he was good technically.

    “Another thing was, his father was big, so although Harry was fairly little when he was young, maybe he would grow up to be big like his dad.

    “He was also really committed, he worked hard and was a good learner – he would pick up new things early and had a thirst for knowledge.”

    Kane was fortunate that the coaches at Spurs took into consideration the skewing factors of the relative age effect in children’s and youth football, Allen says.

    That is the effect whereby children in school years who were born between September and December tend to get chosen for teams because they are more physically mature to those born the following spring or summer.

    “Harry was born in July, which meant the coaches gave him a bit more leeway,” says Allen, who was attending a Sports Analytics Innovation conference in London.

    ‘Elite behaviours’

    However, Allen says alarm bells were raised in the club regarding Kane’s progress when he was 16.

    And, although he made his Spurs debut aged 18 in the Europa League campaign of 2011-12, most of his playing time around this age was via a series of loans to different clubs – Leyton Orient, Millwall, Norwich City and Leicester City.

    When the Leicester loan ended at the close of the 2012-2013 season, Allen says Spurs were considering cashing in on the teenager by looking to make Kane’s next loan arrangement a “loan leading to a sale”.

    Allen also says that Kane’s appearances for the England Under-20s at the Fifa World Cup in Turkey that summer had not been particularly successful either.

    However, Kane went into the Spurs team for Europa League games again at the start of the 2013-14 season, and, after Tim Sherwood took over as manager in the middle of that season, the forward was handed his Premier League debut in April 2014.

    “Since being given that chance he has not looked back,” says Allen. “And to be fair to Harry, he has continued to go forward and grow and develop from then on.”

    And according to Allen, as a person Kane has also become a forceful figure within the dressing room.

    “He is displaying what is described as elite behaviours – traits and characteristics shared by top sports people. He has become a leader in setting the tone to new players about what being a Tottenham player is all about, and what standards are expected,” says the former head of QPR’s academy.

    “He has also physically grown and looks powerful.”

    ‘Informed decisions’

    Allen, who at the FA worked with male and female teams from Under-15s to the senior teams, obviously believes there is a role for data in player development, but that it has to be used sensibly.

    “The more data-rich you are the better. If you can get as much information about the players in all areas the better,” he says. “That includes physical, performance, and psychological.

    “But data and analytics are just one factor. For example it can be useful in finding a player’s weaknesses so that they can be improved upon. At one time it was about basics like the number of shots on goal, now it can be used to look at things such as what is a player’s movement off the ball.”

    And he says that information does not tell a coach such as England boss Gareth Southgate whether or not to select a player. The coach’s job is to put the different parts – the players – together to make the best possible team.

    “Data has to be clean and accurate, so that coaches can make informed decisions. It also has to be presented to coaches in a format that they can make use of,” he says.

    “Also, each coach has different playing styles – different playing demands and goals – so they will all use analytics differently.”

If I’ve got your number, so has Facebook

Suddenly lots of people are waking up and asking themselves questions about Facebook. How much data am I sharing with the social media giant? Did I really give permission for it to be collected and stored?

And, even more seriously, have I handed over my friends’ data to be stored on some Californian server?

I am one of those people and what I’ve discovered has left me somewhat shocked. Over the weekend I got hold of my Facebook data. It’s easy enough, you go to settings, then general account settings and click on download my data.

An hour or so later an email arrived with a link to click and I was downloading a 675MB folder chronicling all of my life on the network since I signed up in 2007.

Big numbers

At first sight there was nothing very troubling – I would expect all the photos and videos I’d ever posted to be there, and scrolling down my timeline provided an entertaining glimpse of my life over the last decade.

I did notice that for some years every song I’d listened to on Spotify was listed, a handy reminder that when you link any external app to Facebook it then gathers a lot more data about you.

But then I clicked on a file called contacts. I was taken aback to find my entire contact list, thousands of phone numbers. Now this was not limited to Facebook friends and included many people in the public eye who might be disturbed to find that their private numbers were stored in this way.

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    I cannot remember what happened when I set up my Facebook account back in 2007 – in those naive days I could well have clicked yes when invited to upload my contacts so that I could see who else was part of this new young community. So, my fault I suppose.

    Then I noticed that at the top of the list were some numbers that cannot have been sucked into the Facebook machine a decade ago because I had only added them in recent weeks. They included, ironically, the mobile number of Carole Cadwalladr, the journalist who has blown open the whole story of Cambridge Analytica and Facebook.

    So this means that every time I enter a new number into my phone’s database, it somehow ends up with Facebook – the company is in effect monitoring me.

    This is not the most startling example of Facebook’s data collection. At least one user has reported that all of his text messages from an Android phone have somehow ended up being stored by Mark Zuckerberg’s company.

    Even if Facebook users agree to share this data, their friends whose numbers or text messages are being collected almost certainly have not. And even if those people have never joined Facebook – or have decided to delete their accounts – it looks as though some of their data will stay with the social network as long as the people who provided it remain.

    Facebook says that uploading your contacts is a normal part of signing up with many messaging or social apps – and insists that users are given a clear choice.

    People are expressly asked if they want to give permission to upload their contacts from their phone – it’s explained right there in the apps when you get started. People can delete previously uploaded information at any time.

    The company is right to say this is common practice. And if you think it is creepy that Facebook is storing this information, what about Apple’s iCloud where millions store their iPhone data, including their contacts?

    In any case, Facebook insists it never shares this data with anyone else. The problem is that its business model, unlike Apple’s, depends on exploiting its users’ data. And given what they have learned over the last week about how that information may have been used, many Facebook users may not be inclined to give it the benefit of the doubt.

Tumblr deletes ‘Russian troll’ accounts

Blogging platform Tumblr has deleted 84 accounts it says Russian propagandists used to spread disinformation during the 2016 US election.

The accounts are believed to have been used by Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA) – an organisation linked to many different web-based campaigns.

Tumblr said it had uncovered the fake accounts while helping an official investigation into the IRA’s influence.

Last month, 13 Russians linked with the IRA were indicted by the US government.

The individuals were charged with trying to manipulate American voters via social media.

‘Incendiary claims’

Tumblr said after discovering the accounts’ Russian connections, it had:

  • shut them down
  • deleted all the posts they had made
  • notified US law enforcement agencies

    But the continuing official investigation into the activities of the IRA had prevented it releasing details before now.

    Tumblr said it would also let anyone who had interacted with the fake accounts know what had happened.

    “We’re committed to transparency and want you to know everything that we know,” it said in a statement.

    Tumblr said it would let individual users decide whether they wanted to delete the chains of links and comments they had added to the Russian posts, which were “often challenging or debunking the false and incendiary claims in the IRA-linked original post”.

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      And it would step up monitoring of its own service in an attempt to stop future abuse by state-backed trolls and propaganda units.

      Other social media services have purged themselves of allegedly IRA-backed accounts in recent months.

      Last year, Facebook said 120 Russian-backed pages had created 80,000 posts received by more than 29 million Americans directly.

      The information reached many more as those initial viewers passed them on to others.

      In December, Facebook introduced a tool that it said would let users know if they had interacted with the IRA-backed accounts.

      Earlier this month, social-news network Reddit said it had removed “hundreds” of accounts it suspected of being used by the IRA.

      In February, Twitter removed many thousands of so-called “‘bot” accounts it said were being used to artificially inflate the importance of messages sent by Russian social-media workers.

Billion euro cyber-suspect arrested in Spain

A cyber-crime mastermind suspected of stealing about £870m (€1bn) has been arrested in Spain.

The individual is alleged to be the head of the organised crime gang that ran the Carbanak and Cobalt malware campaigns that targeted banks.

Europol said the group had been active since 2013 and infiltrated more than 100 banks in that time.

Cash was siphoned off via bank transfers or dispensed automatically through cash machines.

Luxury goods

The arrest was a “significant success” against a top cyber-crime group, Steven Wilson, head of Europol’s Cyber-Crime Centre (EC3), which co-ordinated the long-running, cross-border investigation into the group. said in a statement.

“The arrest of the key figure in this crime group illustrates that cyber-criminals can no longer hide behind perceived international anonymity,” he said.

The cyber-thieves got their malware on to bank networks by sending key staff booby-trapped phishing emails, said Europol. The gang used three separate generations of malware, each one more sophisticated than the last, to penetrate and then lurk on financial networks.

Once the machines of key staff were compromised, the gang used their remote access to banking networks to steal money in several different ways.

  • cash machines were ordered to remotely dispense money at specific times – letting mules and other gang members scoop up the notes
  • inter-bank money transfer systems were instructed to move cash into criminal accounts
  • databases were altered to increase account balances. Mules then removed the money via cash machines

    Money was laundered via crypto-currencies and payment cards, which were used to buy luxury goods including cars and houses.

    Europol, the FBI, cyber-security firms and polices forces in Spain, Romania, Belarus and Taiwan all collaborated to track down the gang, said the European policing agency.

Made in Britain: What does it mean for trade after Brexit?

Rules of Origin sounds like it should be a cult video game.

But it is actually an important concept in international trade that will have a big impact on the Brexit negotiations, as they begin to focus on the future relationship between the EU and the UK.

It’s all about how you define where products really come from and what Made in Britain really means.

At issue is the kind of economic and trade agreement that will replace the UK’s current membership of the European Union.

What do we know so far about what that agreement could look like?

Well, we know Theresa May’s government is committed to leaving the single market and the customs union.

And we also know that, given the red lines the UK has established, the EU is saying that the best it can offer is a free trade agreement, along the lines of the EU-Canada deal (known as Ceta) which came into force last year.

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    The UK wants something more ambitious, but leaving the customs union has a big impact on rules of origin.

    The big advantage of being in the customs union is that there are no tariffs (taxes on imports or exports) charged on goods traded between its member states.

    The disadvantage, from a UK perspective, is that you lose the ability to negotiate your own trade deals with other countries around the world.

    Can’t you have the best of both worlds?

    Well, you can get rid of most tariffs in a free trade agreement, and still retain the ability to negotiate your own trade deals. But unfortunately it’s not that simple.

    This is where rules of origin complicate the picture.

    To comply with rules of origin requirements, companies that make things need to tell customs authorities where all the component parts come from.

    To put it another way, they need to prove the “economic nationality” of their products. That means working out the total value, and where that value was added along the way.

    Why do they need to do that?

    The idea is to prevent abuse of the system, by making sure that products can’t enjoy preferential or zero tariffs as part of a free trade deal after being manufactured mostly on the cheap elsewhere.

    At the moment, because the UK is in the EU customs union, any value added to a UK product anywhere in Europe is considered local, and vice versa. Once the UK leaves, that will no longer be the case automatically.

    And that makes supply chains important. Some products have much more complex supply chains than others, so rules of origin requirements will affect some industries more than others.

    So which sectors are likely to have a problem?

    For some sectors it’s not an issue at all because they are exempt.

    But chemicals, various kinds of machines, and cars are all potentially vulnerable.

    For example, rules of origin in trade deals usually require around 55% of the components of cars to be considered local.

    But – according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders – the average car manufactured in the UK currently has only about 44% UK content at best, because so many parts cross borders several times before the finished product emerges.

    And once you take account of the fact that many of the sub-contractors down the supply chain also source many of their parts from abroad, the SMMT estimates that that figure for cars made in the UK could be as low as 25%. A huge challenge.

    Are there any solutions?

    Yes, there are ways to reduce the risk to business. Free trade deals often include measures that allow both parties to consider value added in the other jurisdiction as local – and it seems safe to assume that a future EU-UK trade deal would do just that.

    But a report published this month by the Food and Drink Federation said everyday food products manufactured in the UK, such as chocolate bars and frozen pizza, could fail to meet some rules of origin requirements anyway if a free trade deal similar to Ceta was negotiated between the EU and the UK.

    That’s because the food industry relies on ingredients that are sourced from across the globe.

    So this is not just about the EU market?

    No, it’s not. Many supply chains are global.

    And it’s also worth bearing in mind that rules of origin will have an impact on the UK’s efforts to replicate its current EU trade agreements with other countries around the world, or to sign new ones.

    UK manufacturers with products that are made in both the UK and the EU may well find it difficult to meet rules of origin requirements with these other countries.

    Again, deals can be done to broaden the definition of what “local” origin means. But if the UK wants a broader definition, other countries could demand the same in return.

    Either way, there could well be an extra burden on businesses.

    So what are the costs?

    There are significant costs, administrative and legal, for businesses that have to prove the origin of goods.

    In some cases, that could even mean that it’s cheaper just to pay a low tariff than to go through the bureaucracy involved in getting an exemption.

    “There are steps that can be taken to mitigate the costs,” says Sam Lowe of the Centre for European Reform. “But outside the customs union you cannot eliminate those extra costs entirely.”

    It sounds complicated…

    Yes, and there are other layers of complexity that we haven’t got into here. But you could well begin to hear a lot more about rules of origin once talks on the future relationship between the UK and the EU get under way.

    The task for EU and UK negotiators is to come up with a new agreement that limits the disruption to supply chains as much as possible. But it will not be frictionless trade.

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Musical David Bowie statue unveiled in Aylesbury

A statue of David Bowie has been unveiled in the town where he debuted Ziggy Stardust.

The bronze sculpture, entitled Earthly Messenger, can be found in Aylesbury’s Market Square.

It features a likeness of Bowie in 2002 regarding a selection of his alter egos down the years, with Ziggy at the front.

Speakers mounted above the life-size piece will play a Bowie song every hour.

Singer-songwriter Howard Jones unveiled the piece and called it a “result for Aylesbury”.

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    Money to create the work was raised through grants and a £100,000 crowdfunding appeal by music promoter David Stopps.

    “The reaction to the statue has been so positive,” Mr Stopps said.

    “When you get something like this people either love it or hate it. If people say ‘I hate it’ or ‘I absolutely love it’ then you know it’s real art. That’s the definition of art.”

    The unveiling comes after Mr Stopps launched a petition to rename Aylesbury “Aylesbowie” in honour of the artist’s “strong connection” to the Buckinghamshire town.

    Bowie first performed as his Stardust persona and debuted two albums at gigs at the Friars music venue in the early 1970s.

    The statue was designed by sculptor Andrew Sinclair, who used the mask taken from Bowie’s face during the filming of The Man Who Fell to Earth to create the likeness.

    Rob Stringer, CEO of Sony Music, described it as “beautiful”.

    “I thought it would be one figurine and it’s actually a complete compendium of his life,” he said.

    “To work with him on the last two records was very emotional but I got to work with somebody who, when I was growing up in Aylesbury in the 70s, was the pop culture legend.”