Trade and Markets
The United Kingdom is a member of the World Trade Organization and the OECD. It is a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol, the Washington Convention, the Montreal Protocol and the 2001 International Coffee Agreement. The country is also a member of the European Union, and therefore benefits from the EU’s free trade agreements.
The United Kingdom complies with European Union customs regulations, which, although very liberal, impose a number of restrictions. Farm products have particularly been subject to in-depth inspections following the implementation of the Common Agricultural Policy, whose purpose is to promote European agriculture. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) used in products must be indicated on packaging used for imports, and animals that are raised using growth hormones are also prohibited. The import tax applicable to manufactured goods, minerals and metals is 4.2% for foreign countries and does not apply to EU member states.
In order to import goods into the United Kingdom, exporters must complete an Intrastat declaration. An individual declaration must be completed when the value of goods exceeds 6,000 GBP. In order to comply with the World Customs Organization’s SAFE standards, the EU has implemented the Import Control System since 2011, which aims to further secure the exchange of goods. An Entry Summary Declaration must also be presented to the Customs Office of the country of import.
The United Kingdom’s external trade is primarily ensured by its ports which account for 97% of trade at around 600 million tonnes per year. There are hundreds of ports dotted along the British coastline, and the largest ports are London, Plymouth, Liverpool, Southampton, Aberdeen and Felixstowe. The United Kingdom also has an excellent road network, the use of which has increased since the opening of the European market. And of course, the United Kingdom is linked to France and the European continent by the channel tunnel, which was completed in 1994.
In the United Kingdom, industry accounts for 26% of GNP, of which engineering, transportation and electronics are the main sectors. Chemical products are also a dominant sector.
Employment Legislation in the UK
The legal working week in the United Kingdom is 48 hours, and retirement age is 60 for women and 65 for men. Employment contracts are governed by law. Minimum wage is EUR 1,105, employer social security contributions amount to 12.8%, and employee contributions are 11%.
26% of employees are union members, and the main trade unions are the TUC, Amicus and STUC.
Intellectual Property Regime in the UK
|Type of rights||Legislation||Validity of protection||Agreements signed|
|Patents||1977 Patent law||20 years||– Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)
– Strasbourg Agreement Concerning International Patent Classification
|Trademarks||1994 Trademark law||10 years||– Nice Agreement on the International Classification of Goods and Services
-The Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks
|Designs||1949 legislation on registered designs||5 years|
|Copyright||1988 copyright, patents and industrial designs law||70 years, except in the case of graphic layout, in which case it is 25 years||– Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works
– Convention for the Protection of Producers of Phonograms
– Rome Convention for the Protection of Performers
– WIPO Copyright Treaty
– WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty
UK Political Data
Queen Elizabeth II is the head of State and represents executive power. However, this title is primarily merely honorary and the leader of the party that wins parliamentary elections becomes Prime Minister for a period of five years. The Prime Minister (currently David Cameron) is the head of Government, and holds executive power.
The United Kingdom’s legislature has two chambers: the House of Lords (the upper house) with 625 members elected for life, 92 hereditary peers, and 26 clergy members; and, the House of Commons (lower house) which has 646 seats for members elected by general election for a period of five years.
The UK has three major political parties: the Labour Party (centre-left, traditionally the workers’ party); the Conservative Party (centre-right, pro-free trade and somewhat anti-EU); and, the Liberal Democrats (centre-left, pro-EU).