After a Kantar poll showed that Labour was gaining support, with the Conservatives leading by 43 percent and Labour closing the gap at 32 percent, the pound reacted by falling lower.

FXStreet’s Yohay Elam could not have put it better: “Bearded Corbyn is bringing the bears out." While the chances are low, the possibility of Jeremy Corbyn being the next PM has spooked the pound.

Up until now, the pound has reacted positively in accordance with the possibility of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party winning at the UK general election. With polls mostly showing that the Conservatives’ lead has been growing, analysts have been anticipating a majority of seats for the Conservatives, which will significantly boost the pound. This is based on the belief that Johnson will “get Brexit done” before the deadline of 31 January, which means that an orderly Brexit will come hand in hand with the pound trading higher.

However, after the Labour party released its manifesto last week promising to increase both spending and taxes, support pensioners and nationalise industries, alongside the pledge of a confirmatory referendum on Brexit, support has surged for the main opposition party, something which is now reflected in the polls.

The Kantar poll

Kantar surveyed 1,097 people online between 21-25 of November. According to the poll, which took place after both parties had published their manifestos, support for the Conservatives fell 2 points while Labour gained 5 points.

The Kantar poll was published on Tuesday following Monday's poll by ICM for Reuters which also showed that the Conservative's lead is threatened by Labour, supporting further the possibility of a hung parliament. A hung parliament will be negative for Sterling as it will create uncertainty over Brexit and hurt businesses and financial markets’ sentiment.

Markets are wary

If Labour continues to perform well in the polls and the gap between the two main opposition parties tightens, then the pound might be unable to maintain its steady upward trajectory. Analysts are cautious now as the risks for the pound are increasing due to markets being too confident that a Conservative majority was the most certain outcome. With the campaign entering its last two weeks and undecided voters (most possibly Labour voters) changing current certainties, risks are definitely on the rise over the coming days.

Investors are wary of the latest Labour bounce, but if Conservatives continue to poll well, then things will change again and the market will become more confident over a Conservative majority scenario.

According to CNBC, Opinium’s latest voter intention poll gives the Conservatives a 19-point advantage over Labour, but “this could be too good to be true,” as BMO Capital Markets Head of European FX Strategy Stephen Gallo said. Gallo also stated that the outlook for GBP was binary. He said: “We’d much rather be looking for value in selling the GBP on a 1-3 month basis, on the view that hung parliament odds are ‘underpriced’ by the FX market, and even with a comfortable (Conservative) majority, the remaining U.K.-EU negotiations on an FTA (free trade agreement) will probably raise the odds of a ‘no deal’ exit from the transition phase in 2020.”

Whether the pound continues to retreat due to polls showing a Conservative lead shrinking, it remains to be seen.

However, you can take control of your finances by getting in touch with a leading foreign exchange specialist such as Universal Partners FX. UPFX offers competitive rates and helps you transfer your funds at the most optimal time and at the best possible rates. UPFX’s currency specialists can offer invaluable market insight and tailored strategies so that you make the most of your money.

Spot Rates

The world of currency exchange can be a foggy landscape to explore for an outsider, filled with alien jargon and complex topics.

One such term that may fit into all three of those categories is the phrase “spot rates”. To help demist this hazy phrase, we’re shining a spotlight on spot rates to clear up any confusion.

What is a Spot Rate?

At its simplest, a spot rate can be defined as a contracted price for a transaction that is taking place immediately (i.e. providing the on-the-spot price there and then).

Spot rates are also sometimes known as “interbank rates” as they are the rate banks and large financial institutions – such as brokerage firms and credit unions – charge each other when trading large sums of foreign currency.

Calculating Spot Rates

Also known as the spot price, the spot rate is based on how much buyers are willing to pay and how much sellers are willing to accept, essentially reflecting supply and demand.

Spot Rates vs Forward Contracts

When discussing spot rates, it’s important to not confuse this with forward rates. Forward rates can best be described as the opposite of a spot rate, typically used to quote a transaction that will take place down the line at a future date, based on the predicted value at the time of settlement.

What is a Spot Contract?

A spot contract is the legally binding agreement relating to the spot trade deal, representing a sworn obligation to buy or sell at the rate agreed between the two parties.

Due to the immediate nature of the valuation, the spot contract usually dictates that a transaction occurs one or two business days from the initial agreed trade date. The date the transaction is initiated on is commonly referred to as the “horizon”.

Spot Rates and Currency

A foreign exchange spot transaction is where one party agrees to purchase one currency by selling another, at a specific price on a set date. This is sometimes referred to as an “FX spot”.

FX spot rates differ from the exchange rate you would see at a typical bureau de change due primarily to the volume of currency exchanged in business vs civilian usage. Think of it as the same way that wholesale prices differ from retail prices.

For more information on spot rates, why not get in touch today and speak with one of our foreign exchange experts? Call now on 020 7190 9559 or send us a message online using the button below.

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SEPA Transfers

If you need to send money abroad, the transfer process can sometimes be a bit of headache, particularly if you’re a novice and don’t know where to start.

After all, not everyone is a financial expert and separating acronyms like SWIFT and IBAN can leave many a civilian more than a little befuddled.

That being said, transferring euros throughout the European Union can be a fairly straightforward process, thanks primarily to the introduction of SEPA transfers.

What Are SEPA Transfers?

In a nutshell, SEPA stands for Single Euro Payments Area. A payment initiative of the European Union, SEPA transfers are specifically designed to simplify bank transfers denominated in the currency of euros and improve the overall efficiency of cross-border payments within the EU.

The aim of SEPA transfers is to make an international transfer of euro payments the equivalent to money transfer within your own country. Naturally, this is only applicable to participating countries, predominantly featuring those that comprise the EU, and SEPA doesn’t cover payments in currencies other than the euro.

Essentially, SEPA allows for smooth borderless payment within the Eurozone. For example, you could send money quickly and easily from Paris to Berlin much like you would a payment from Birmingham to Bromley, with no strings attached.

Payments typically take between 1 and 2 working days to complete.

Which Countries Participate in SEPA?

In a nutshell, SEPA stands for Single Euro Payments Area. A payment initiative of the European Union, SEPA transfers are specifically designed to simplify bank transfers denominated in the currency of euros and improve the overall efficiency of cross-border payments within the EU.

The aim of SEPA transfers is to make an international transfer of euro payments the equivalent to money transfer within your own country. Naturally, this is only applicable to participating countries, predominantly featuring those that comprise the EU, and SEPA doesn’t cover payments in currencies other than the euro.

Essentially, SEPA allows for smooth borderless payment within the Eurozone. For example, you could send money quickly and easily from Paris to Berlin much like you would a payment from Birmingham to Bromley, with no strings attached.

Payments typically take between 1 and 2 working days to complete.

Which Countries Participate in SEPA?

As of November 2019, the list of SEPA countries is as follows:

  • Åland Islands
  • Andorra
  • Austria
  • Azores
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Canary Islands
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • French Guiana
  • Germany
  • Gibraltar
  • Greece
  • Guadeloupe
  • Guernsey
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Isle of Man
  • Italy
  • Jersey
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Madeira
  • Malta
  • Martinique
  • Mayotte
  • Monaco
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Réunion
  • Romania
  • Saint Barthélemy
  • Saint Martin (French part)
  • Saint Pierre and Miquelon
  • San Marino
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom 

Are SEPA Transfers Free?

Transfers between banks accounts in different SEPA countries should cost the same as domestic transfer and incur no inflated fees, despite the international nature of the exchange, as per EU regulations.

For more information on SEPA transfers or to make an EU transfer with Universal Partners FX, why not drop us a line today? Call now on 020 7190 9559 to speak with one of our expert advisors or get in touch online by clicking the button below.

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Universal Partners FX Joins Movement to Shine a Spotlight on Fraud

International Fraud Awareness Week kicks off Nov. 17, 2019 worldwide

Fraud costs organizations worldwide an estimated 5 percent of their annual revenues, according to a study conducted by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE). The ACFE’s 2018 Report to the Nations on Occupational Fraud and Abuse analyzed 2,690 occupational fraud cases that caused a total loss of more than $7.1 billion.

The seriousness of the global fraud problem is why Universal Partners FX announced that it will be participating in International Fraud Awareness Week, Nov. 17-23, 2019, as an official supporter to promote anti-fraud awareness and education. The movement, known commonly as Fraud Week, champions the need to proactively fight fraud and help safeguard business and investments from the growing fraud problem.

Universal Partners FX joins hundreds of organizations who have partnered with the ACFE, the world's largest anti-fraud organization and premier provider of anti-fraud training and education, for the yearly Fraud Week campaign.

During Fraud Week, official supporters will engage in various activities, including: hosting fraud awareness training for employees and/or the community, conducting employee surveys to assess levels of fraud awareness within their organization, posting articles on company websites and in newsletters and teaming up with local media to highlight the problem of fraud.

“We are committed to doing as much as we can to combat all types of fraud across the world.” Said Universal Partners FX Director Oliver Carson. “As a financial company, we pride ourselves on keeping money safe and ensuring best practices are always adhered to. The awareness created by Fraud Awareness Week is key to protecting people from all around the globe from fraudulent activity”.

ACFE CEO and President Bruce Dorris, J.D., CFE, CPA, said that the support of organizations around the world helps make Fraud Week an effective tool in raising anti-fraud awareness.

“Fraud is an issue that unfortunately affects people from all walks of life around the world and it takes many forms,” said ACFE President and CEO Bruce Dorris, J.D., CFE, CPA. “Whether it’s a trusted employee stealing from a small business, or organized rings of fraudsters targeting seniors in our community, most people know someone who’s been victimized by fraud. That’s why it’s so important for organizations to join in this fight together in order to raise awareness during this week. It is a serious problem that requires a proactive approach toward preventing it and educating people is the first step.”

For more information about increasing awareness and reducing the risk of fraud during International Fraud Awareness Week, visit FraudWeek.com.

The 2018 Report to the Nations is available for download online at the ACFE’s website: ACFE.com/RTTN.  The Report is in PDF format.

About the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners
Based in Austin, Texas, the ACFE is the world's largest anti-fraud organization and premier provider of anti-fraud training and education. Together with more than 85,000 members, the ACFE is reducing business fraud worldwide and inspiring public confidence in the integrity and objectivity within the profession. For more information, visit ACFE.com.

 

For Immediate Release                                                                        

For More Information Contact:

Jack Scorgie

E-mail: jack@upfx.co.uk

Moving to the USA

Arguably one of the most popular countries in the world, the USA has long been a destination of choice for many globetrotters and travellers worldwide. Unsurprisingly, this fact also extends to Brits looking to relocate outside of UK shores.

Heralded as “The Land of Opportunity”, the USA poses many exciting possibilities for those looking to emigrate to the US. However, moving to the US is no small feat and requires a great deal of planning, preparation and paperwork.

Whatever your reasons for moving to the USA, if you’re serious about upping sticks and heading Stateside, there are a number of things you’ll need to get in order before you do.

US Visas

In the post-9/11 landscape, national security in the US is understandably a very delicate and serious subject. Naturally, the United States Government is very cautious about who they allow to come into the country and, as such, moving to America requires a lot of due diligence.

The very first thing you need to consider when moving to America is getting a visa. Visas allow you the legal right to live, work and stay in a foreign country and the “Good Ol’ US of A” is no exception.

That being said, there is no “one size fits all” solution to travelling to the US and visas can be muddy waters to navigate, particularly when you stumble across tourist-related entry like the Visa Waiver Program and ESTA or student-related academic admin like the F-1 or M-1 visas.

With several different variations of the US visa to choose from, it’s important to know exactly which one applies to you before you begin your application. As a general rule, there are two primary forms of visa that are applicable to those looking to move to the USA.

- Nonimmigrant Visas

If you wish to move to the USA to work temporarily, the nonimmigrant visa is probably the one for you. That being said, according to the US Department of State, there are over 20 nonimmigrant visa types for those travelling to the US temporarily.

The US Government doesn’t issue work visas for casual employment, so a nonimmigrant visa application will often need to be accompanied by correspondence between your prospective employer and

For additional information on which nonimmigrant visa may be applicable to you, check out the following information from the UK US Embassy.

Immigrant Visas

Commonly referred to as a “green card”, immigrant visas are typically applicable to those looking for permanent residence in the United States.

While the entry criteria can vary, common routes of qualification include an offer of permanent employment from a US company or sponsorship from an existing family already stateside.

However, while possession of a green card does grant permanent residency in the United States, it doesn’t allow you to stay in the US indefinitely. Even if you are authorised with a green card, you will still be required to renew it every ten years in order to maintain your status.

That being said, once you have lived in the US for at least five years, you may be eligible to apply for US citizenship; however, this naturally comes with a long list of terms and conditions attached.

Diversity Immigrant Visa Program

In addition to the above, there is a third, less common option that is applicable to a small minority of those in the UK looking to apply for a US visa – namely the Diversity Visa (DV).

The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program is open to those from countries where there are historically low rates of US immigration and involves a random selection process.

The program itself is limited to just 50,000 annual entries, distributed among 38 countries in six geographic regions. No country can receive more than 7% of the DV allocation in any one year.

While UK citizens are generally excluded, those from Northern Ireland are not. Additionally, there are also possible exceptions if your spouse is a foreign national.

While the above information is a handy overview to follow for your, be sure to check with the official US Embassy & Consulates for the most up to date details at the time of your trip. Meanwhile, for more information on the types of immigrant/nonimmigrant visas available, visit the Travel.State.Gov for the full rundown.

Moving to America Checklist

Sadly, the application process for moving to the US can be a notoriously lengthy and frustrating process, meaning plenty of waiting around and prolonged periods of transitional purgatory.

Even after you have overcome that sizeable hurdle, don’t begin baking that apple pie and belting out the “Star-Spangled Banner” just yet – there is still plenty of work to do before you touch down on American soil and wave “Old Glory” with pride.

Accommodation

Before you can begin living the American dream, you’re going to need somewhere to live full-stop.

While this can be done online, relying on web images and second-hand accounts isn’t always the best course of action – especially when it comes to permanent accommodation.

As a stopgap, you may want to arrange temporary accommodation to live in when you arrive. That way, you can check out potential permanent residence in person before you commit to a property.

Social Security

Another thing you will need to address once you arrive in the USA is an application for a social security number.

An SSN is a nine-digit number issued to you by the US Government that’s used to keep track of employment details, such as earnings and years worked.

If you have a US work visa, this process can’t be done in advance; however, it can be arranged easily in person at your local Social Security Admin office once you arrive.

Health Insurance

Unlike in the UK, healthcare in the USA is privatised. As such, health insurance is required to cover the costs of any treatment you may require during your stay.

It’s not unusual for employers to contribute towards US health insurance costs, so be sure to check with your employer if they have you covered before you take out any unnecessary additions.

Moving Possessions

If you are planning on taking many of your homely possessions with you, arranging transport for these items before you leave will be a necessary part of the process.

Naturally, this process will depend largely on what you plan on taking with you and your living arrangements once you arrive. Having a three-piece suite shipped over in a cargo freight to a hotel probably isn’t a good idea.

That being said, there are plenty of services online that can ship over boxes and suitcases full of smaller items. Better still, a lot of cargo companies will also handle customs clearance for you, which can make the process considerably easier.

- Driving

Driving in the US is a lot more than just getting used to using the other side of the road. In fact, for UK ex-pats, it’s going to unsurprisingly involve even more paperwork.

While short-term visitors may be able to get away with their UK driving license accompanied by an International Driving Permit for rentals, UK citizens taking up permanent residence in the US will be required to get a driver’s license for the state they will reside in.

For additional information, check out the relevant state page on the Department of Motor Vehicles website for further details.

- Tying Up Loose Ends

While upping sticks and disappearing into the night may seem like a memorable way to make an exit, leaving without notifying the appropriate people can be a costly error.

To avoid accruing unnecessary bills for services you haven’t used long after you leave, be sure to sever ties with the relevant channels. Pay up your bills, inform any service providers and close any accounts you no longer need.

Money in the US

Like any big relocation, one of the main factors you will need to take into account when planning your move to America is how you plan on handling your money before and after.

Setting up a bank account in the US before you arrive can be a mammoth task to add to an already mammoth list. As such, it’s probably an avoidable chore you could do without and one best left for when you arrive.

In the interim, you will probably need to send money to the US before you leave, whether you’re paying for services, accommodation or simply transferring funds to a loved one on the other side.

Luckily, this is one part of the process that is refreshingly simple. With the help of Universal Partners FX, you can send money to the USA quickly, easily and hassle-free.

Our easy-to-use system allows you to achieve a safe, secure transaction in a swift and cost-effective manner. No hidden transaction fees, no strings attached.

To transfer money to the US, all you have to do is follow our simple three-step process:

  1. Register for free
  2. Secure your exchange rate
  3. We make your payment

At Universal Partners FX, we know that moving to the US is no easy feat and we’re more than happy to do the hard work for you when it comes to transferring money to the US.

Backed by a 5-star Feefo rating, you can rest assured that, with us, your money is in safe hands, leaving you to concentrate on making your American dream a reality.

 

For more information on moving to the US or to find out more about sending money to America, why not drop us a line today? Call 020 7190 9559 now to talk with one of our expert advisors or get in touch online by using the button below.

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Despite Brexit, it is not difficult to see how appealing it will be to buy property in Monaco, especially when you are a millionaire. For example, pro-Brexit Ineos boss Sir Jim Ratcliffe decided last year to move to Monaco to avoid UK taxes on his £21bn fortune. With almost 35 in every 100 residents of Monaco being millionaires, British expats can feel part of the elite.

A staunch Brexiter, Ratcliffe offered support for the Leave campaign, but has repeatedly criticised investing in the UK when taxes were high but embraced his British roots when his business benefited from corporation tax cuts.

Ratcliffe sees himself as “a lover of Britain” but when it comes to business, “choice must be about head as well as heart.”

If you feel the same, and are choosing to buy property in Monaco consciously, then you can join some of the wealthiest people. UHNWIs (Ultra-High Net Worth Individuals) flock to Monaco for low taxes, but also for the quality of life.

In 2016, the Telegraph reported that Monaco had started a €2 billion (£1.8 billion) operation to reclaim land from the sea in order to build more luxury housing for the world's wealthiest residents. According to research by the estate agent Knight Frank, about 2,700 more millionaires are expected to move in Monaco by 2026, increasing the number of millionaires to 16,100 out of a total population of 38,400.

Monaco’s housing market

With its soft climate and location on Cote d’Azur, its glamorous lifestyle, and the annual Formula 1 Grand Prix, Monaco offers luxury with a high price tag; it is simply, one of the most expensive real estate markets in the world. So, if you are searching for affordable accommodation, to either rent or buy, Monaco is not for you.

However, anyone can buy property, as long as they can afford to spend €36,000 per square meter for an apartment. If you are looking for newly built houses, then we are talking about between 4 to 10 million and prices can increase depending on the kind of property and its location.

If you do buy real estate, you can browse listing sites and get in touch with agents. When it comes to the actual transaction, you will need to pay a notary to execute and authenticate it. If you go with a real estate agent, you will need to pay fees of around 3% (plus VAT) of the purchase price. You will also need to pay registration fees at 4.5% of the property’s market value.

The market is healthy, and the trend of building apartments is on the rise. According to Knight Frank, 50 new apartments were sold in 2017 at prices below €5m, with properties above €5m accounting for 23% of sales. In 2017, properties were around at €53,000 per sq m., while more premium properties can exceed €100,000 per sq m.

Buying property

Before signing any agreements, you should get a notary’s opinion no matter if you’re buying or selling.

Once you decided on the property, you can express your interest with an offer letter, outlining the details of the property, price and the time of transaction. The notary would prepare the purchase contract and the sale would be completed at the notary’s office with the payment, including the notary’s fees, transfer taxes and other related costs. If you are an individual, you will need to pay 6% in property registration tax, title registration and notary fees. Otherwise, if the property is purchased by foreign companies, they will pay 9%. The notary will transfer the funds and register the new owner at the registry of deeds. Owners of newly built properties or those who will build their own properties, must pay 20% VAT.

Universal Partners FX

If you are moving ahead with buying property in Monaco, you will need to discuss your currency transfers with a foreign exchange specialist such as Universal Partners FX. With years of experience in transferring funds internationally and a great team of currency brokers making sure that your funds are transferred safely and efficiently in your overseas account, UPFX are the ideal partners for your currency needs. Get in touch with them today, to find out how they can help you get access to the best exchange rates in the market.

Historically, financial markets have favoured the Tory party and Conservative neoliberal and free-market economics. On the other hand, investors have disliked hard left policies that seek to protect the rights of the many at the expense of the few, such as nationalizations and wealth redistribution. It is not surprising then that Corbyn’s Labour policies would be seen by many as potentially damaging to the pound.

Here we have a look at the possible outcomes for the pound in case of a Conservative or a Labour majority, as well as some of the pledges each party has made.

Getting Brexit done

For economists, this is clear. If the result of the next general election is a Conservative majority, then the British Pound will rise. This is the most positive outcome for Sterling as it will end political uncertainty, get Brexit done, and eliminate the prospect of a Corbynite government.

In other words, a Conservative majority will enable Johnson’s deal to pass smoothly through parliament and it will help to stabilise the political and economic landscape. Markets understand that a Tory majority means the immediate implementation of Boris Johnson's Brexit deal and Brexit taking place on 31 January 2020.

In this sense, an unfavourable result will be a weak conservative win or a Labour majority. A Labour government will create uncertainty, as it will introduce a new Brexit deal to be negotiated all over again and a referendum to pass the deal, further threatening the pound.

Additionally, many argue that further uncertainty will be created if there is a Labour coalition. According to Peter Kinsella of the Swiss private bank Union Bancaire Privée, “We certainly have not priced in anything like a Labour-type coalition, and if we did, it (the Pound) would certainly be an awful lot lower. We have priced out no-deal but we have not priced in any electoral certainty yet.”

A coalition could be positive for Sterling?

However, others are more optimistic.  JPMorgan sees that a “hung parliament which delivered or held out the prospect of a softer-Brexit coalition of the left-of-centre parties (Labour/Lib Dems/SNP) might actually be GBP positive." Jordan Rochester at Nomura has also said back in May: “GBP would also benefit from Labour’s stance on Brexit being somewhat ‘softer’ than the Conservatives, especially if it forms a coalition with the SNP and Liberal Democrats. A coalition government may encourage some to argue GBP should be lower owing to the uncertainty. But the removal of austerity (leading to higher real yields) and renewed arguments as to a ‘softer’ Brexit are likely to inspire less GBP negativity as once thought.”

Taxes and spending

The Conservatives have pledged to spend more than £250m to invest in broadband, roads, the NHS, schools, roads and police. The Chancellor Sajid Javid has said that the money, which will come from the Housing Infrastructure Fund will help improve roads, schools and transport links. He said: “I have now launched an infrastructure revolution and this step-change in funding will ensure that all parts of the country benefit as we level-up opportunities. This £250m will increase the number of houses available to buy and help support people to achieve their dream of home ownership.” Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell criticised Javid's "pathetic publicity stunt announcement" and said: "When there are millions of people on our housing waiting lists and families with children living in containers, we need real change and real investment in our infrastructure, not this derisory drop in the ocean."

In terms of personal taxes, Conservatives will increase the threshold for the 40p rate of income tax from £50,000 to £80,000 and raise the starting point for national insurance (NI), which will be worth £460 per worker. The income tax will cost £8bn a year and help 2.5 million of the highest-earning employees.

Labour has not made any specific promises yet but according to its 2017 manifesto, it will increase income tax rates to 45 percent for salaries over £80,000 and to 50 percent for salaries over £123,000. They will spend £250bn on upgrading transport, energy and broadband infrastructure.

This is why, the latest newspaper headlines highlight fears of a Labour government and how wealthy individuals are transferring their money abroad before the general election, since as they stated, “If Corbyn gets in, we're sending our money to Switzerland.” Another recent article, “Super-rich prepare to leave UK 'within minutes' if Labour wins election,” shows how the UK’s richest families are preparing to shift their fortunes and make early gifts to their children in order to avoid Corbyn’s threat to tax inheritances above £125,000. Lawyers and advisers for these millionaire and billionaire clients have said that for these rich individuals, a Corbyn-led government is a bigger threat to their wealth than a hard Brexit.

Health and social care

Conservatives will spend £13bn under a “Health Infrastructure Plan” to build 40 new hospitals in England, but only £2.8bn and six hospitals will go ahead at first. Labour will increase spending which will be paid by the income tax rises on the highest 5 percent of earners and will increase tax on private medical insurance. It will create a new National Care Service for social care for those over-65s (cost £6bn), scrap prescription charges (cost £750m) and develop a state drug company to develop cheaper drugs. It will also increase GP trainee numbers in England by 50 per cent. While more is expected from Labour’s latest manifesto, the 2017 election pledge referred to £30bn in extra funding.

Brexit and NHS: “everything is on the table”

Brexit has complicated the issues of the NHS, with fears of medicine shortages in a no-deal Brexit scenario. It has also opened the possibility of negotiating new trade deals with such countries as the US. Back in June, during a press conference with the then Prime Minister Theresa May, President Trump claimed that “everything is on the table” when it comes to striking a deal with the UK, including the NHS. He said: “So NHS or anything else. A lot more than that.” Whether he meant it or not, this has now created fears that the UK would be paying more for medicines under a US trade deal and passing on costs to both patients and the NHS.

Following the comments of drug pricing expert Dr Andrew Hill on Dispatches that the US spends more per capita than the UK on medicines, something that would equate to an extra £500 million a week in the UK, Labour has used the £500 million figure in an attempt to also criticise Brexiters’ early claims of funding the NHS with £350 million a week.

It is within this context that Jeremy Corbyn accused Boris Johnson of wanting to “hijack Brexit to unleash Thatcherism on steroids.” He added: “Johnson and the Leave campaign promised to rebuild our NHS. Johnson stood in front of a bus and promised £350 million a week for the NHS. Now we find out that £500 million a week could be taken out of the NHS and handed to big drugs companies under his plans for a sell-out trade deal with Donald Trump.”

Of course, this has been denied by the Conservatives who said that it was “shameful” that Labour was spreading “lies about the NHS.”

Boris Johnson already clarified at a press conference with Trump that the NHS “is not for sale.” His health secretary Matt Hancock and trade secretary Liz Truss also said that “The price the NHS pays for drugs won’t be on the table. And the services the NHS delivers won’t be on the table.”

With no concrete evidence, Labour is using political rhetoric to set itself as the party that is committed to protecting the NHS from any such threat. For many commentators, speculation will continue as Johnson will delay the Conservative manifesto launch until just two weeks before the general election. Labour’s manifesto will be out next week after officials decide this Saturday on which policies to include.

As the election campaign heats up, and as the parties publicise their manifestos, the pound will continue to be impacted by political developments. For investors, the only thing certain at the moment, is that a Conservative government appears to be the best possible deal for the future of the pound.

 

Boris Johnson doesn’t like to give up easily, so his latest promise is that the UK will complete a free trade agreement with the EU by 31 December next year. As he has stated, if he wins the election in December, the UK will be able to strike a free-trade agreement within just 12 months.

Is this possible?

According to the Financial Times, “few trade experts believe this is possible.” The reason being is the difficulty of having an agreement ready in such a short time, especially considering Brexit happening in January, and a transition period lasting until 31 December 2020. If this is the case, the article argues, the UK and EU would need to have agreed on “a comprehensive trade agreement by the end of next year. If they haven't, the UK in effect falls out of the EU with no deal. Most trade experts say a free trade agreement can’t be concluded that quickly.”

For many Brexiters, the UK wants to complete a similar kind of agreement as the Canada plus one, which took seven years for the EU to conclude and which will need the approval of all 27 remaining EU states.

Managing director of Eurasia Group Mujtaba Rahman has confirmed the impossibility of agreeing any trade agreement between the UK and EU. Talking to the FT, he said: “Remember this will be a trade agreement unlike any before. Normally trade agreements are designed to promote economic convergence. This one will be about managing divergence. That’s much more complicated.” 

As the government is not open to extending the transition period beyond the start of 2021, Johnson will have to win the election with a majority, something that will again open the possibility of a no-deal Brexit.

A Canada style free-trade deal

Boris is not looking for a close economic partnership, but rather for a trade agreement similar to the so-called Canada plus agreement, that will define the UK’s future relationship with the EU. Canada’s trade agreement with the EU is considered one of the most ambitious ones and is officially called the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). IT was signed in 2016 and was enforced in September. However, it hasn’t been ratified yet by all the countries, a step that could take several years.

The specific Canada trade deal has helped increase exports to Canada with Canada’s Minister of International Trade Diversification Jim Carr stating that: "At the Port of Montreal alone, we have seen 20% more traffic in goods headed across the Atlantic. This enormous step in growth for Canada and the EU has been the reason why new shipping lanes have been added to accommodate container traffic."

According to the deal, 98% of all tariffs on goods traded between Canada and the EU are duty free, something however, that, does not mean no border controls. Additionally, when it comes to the financial services, CETA does not offer anything that is not already covered by World Trade Organization rules. There is no"passporting" rights that will allow Canadian financial companies to sell their services in EU member states. Finally, there will still be tariffs on some products and quotas on certain agricultural products.

Not Ideal for UK and EU exporters

A Canada plus-type agreement might enable the UK to leave the EU customs union and decide on its own tariff rates, but it won’t necessarily solve all the issues faced by UK and EU exporters. There will be costs and additional bureaucratic documentation that will be too complicated or costly for companies.

EU: Any future trade agreement will be “difficult”

The European Union's Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier talking on Tuesday at the Web Summit, in Lisbon, said that negotiations on a future trading relationship with Britain would be "difficult and demanding," as the EU "will not tolerate unfair competitive advantage." "The UK should not think that zero tariffs, zero quotas will be enough," and that time would be "extremely short" for negotiations. He added that the UK still faced the threat of a no-deal Brexit: “Even when the [Brexit] deal is ratified it will not be the end of the story ... We have to build a new partnership with the UK after they withdraw."

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For many British expats, buying property in Portugal remains a top priority despite the uncertainties of Brexit. From Lisbon to Porto, Chaves and Lagos, Portugal’s most popular locations continue to seduce British expats who emigrate in the country to enjoy the warm summers and uncrowded cities offering quality of life and delicious cuisine. Just think of Portugal’s iconic Fado music, Port wine, Algarve’s beaches and the delicious pastel de nata; Portugal’s charms can easily convince anyone to move there.

Whether you are looking for a villa or a beachside property, it’s important to be aware of the legal processes, costs, taxes and other fees involved in buying property in Portugal. Here’s some helpful tips to get you started.

The property market, residence and Brexit

The property market is now growing steadily and buying a property in a good location will count as a good investment.

In the last decade, around three-quarters of people own their own home in Portugal. As there are no restrictions on owning foreign property, EU citizens can buy their property easily. Around 50,000 Brits have been living in Portugal.

Especially if they can afford it, they can apply for a golden visa, which will allow them to live there for five years if they invest in a property worth a minimum of EUR 500,000000 (or EUR 350,000 for redevelopment in an urban renovation zone). After the period of five years, they will be able to apply for permanent residency. If you’re applying for a golden visa, you’ll need to reside in Portugal for at least seven days in the first year and 14 or more days in the following years.

In general, if you have been living in Portugal for five years you can apply for a permanent residence status, and after six years, for Portuguese citizenship as Portugal allows dual citizenship.

With Brexit, British citizens might lose some of the freedoms they enjoyed under the EU. While buying a holiday home and not moving in Portugal permanently won’t change after Brexit, there might be more bureaucratic processes, including applying for the visa waiver ETIAS scheme (European Travel Information and Authorization System). This is a completely new electronic system expected to be in place by 2021, which will keep track of visitors from countries who do not need a visa to enter the Schengen Zone. This means that you'll be limited to 90 days in any 180-day period within the Schengen area.

According to the Portuguese Prime Minister, Antonio Costa, the rights of British citizens who live or invest in Portugal will be protected. With the two countries’ close relationship and Portuguese economy depending on tourism and construction, British citizens’ rights might not be under threat.

Fiscal Number

To buy a property in Portugal, you’ll need to apply for a Personal Fiscal Number (Número de Identificação Fiscal (NIF), or Número de Contribuinte), a tax identification number issued to anyone conducting official business in Portugal. Whether investing in property, living or being involved in any form of business in Portugal, you will need to have a Portuguese fiscal number. For example, if you are buying a property with your partner and your names are both on the title deeds, then you will both need to have a Portuguese tax identification number. 

How much do properties cost in Portugal?

Location will naturally affect the property price, with Lisbon and the Algarve’s coastal areas being the most popular and expensive areas.  A villa in Lisbon and Algarve will cost you around €400,000 and €300,000 respectively, while a small apartment will be around €130,000 in either of these two locations. You have to consider that your expenses will increase depending on the property’s price. The more expensive your home, the more you will have to pay in property taxes, based on a property’s fiscal value. If you are looking for a bargain, heading towards the central region of Portugal, will offer you the advantage of lovely big homes at lower prices.  Compared to the Algarve, the Silver Coast is also a beautiful and cheaper alternative.

Universal Partners FX

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