MPs are set to amend EU law on natural habitats, meaning bad news for the 75,000 great crested newts that reside in Britain
MPs are set to amend EU law on natural habitats, meaning bad news for the 75,000 great crested newts that reside in Britain

Newts, Nato and new cars

posted by Paul Simpson
17 February 2017

Our number crunching round up of the week in procurement and supply chains


The estimated population of great crested newts in Britain. Although the consequences of Brexit are still much debated, there seems little doubt that the UK’s departure from the EU will be bad for this endangered species. The FT reports that British ministers plan to amend the EU law on natural habitats to make it easier to build new homes and regards the protection of newts as “excessive” – the species is mentioned eight times in the recent government white paper on housing. Environmentalists have even been accused of planting great crested newts on sites to stop development projects. Britain is not alone in wondering about newts’ impact on the building trade: in 2006, chancellor Angela Merkel suggested that protecting the species was hindering German business.


The percentage of Swiss votes who rejected proposals to reduce corporate tax rates in a referendum, despite warnings that a ‘No’ vote would harm Switzerland’s international competitiveness. The plans, overwhelmingly endorsed by both chambers of parliament, would have lowered tax rates on many businesses while abolishing many of the privileges currently enjoyed by multinationals. The decisive rejection in the referendum means it will probably take at least a year for new proposals to be presented.


The weekly wage paid to Argentinian footballer Carlos Tevez at his new club Shanghai Shenhua. The 33-year-old forward is now the highest paid footballer in the world, ahead of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo (who only earn £365,000 a week). Tevez’s career at his new club did not get off to the most promising start – Shenhua were knocked out of the Asian Champions League on his debut.


The number of truck drivers America lacks just to meet current demand. The American Trucking Association warns that the shortage could almost quadruple by 2024. Demographics are not on the industry’s side: more truckers are 65 or over (6.1%) than between 20 and 24 (4.9%).


Is the UK meeting its commitment to spend 2% of GDP on defence? No, says the International Institute for Strategic Studies, which claims that the UK fell short by £380m, and missed the target by 0.2% in 2016. Yes, says the government pointing to Nato figures that show that military spend stood at 2.21% in July 2016. Sterling’s fall – and the UK’s economic growth – may account for the discrepancy. The IISS maintains that only two European countries met their 2% pledge: Estonia and Greece. Nato says the UK and Poland did too. The issue is politically charged given the ultimatum by Jim Mattis, the new US Defence Secretary, that if European nations did not pay their way on Nato spending, America would “moderate its commitment” to the alliance.


The number of new cars sold in the Philippines last year, the highest since records began and a 24.9% increase on sales in 2015. Six out of ten of those sales were for commercial use, with the rest being passenger vehicles. Toyota was the biggest brand with 39.1% of the market, followed by Mitsubishi (14.7%), Hyundai and Ford (8.34%) and Japanese commercial vehicle brand Isuzu (6.77%). The Philippines government has announced a $17.3bn spend on infrastructure this year but car sales are expected to keep growing this year as public transport won’t significantly improve until early 2018.


How much American retailer Nordstrom generated in sales of Ivanka Trump products in the fiscal year ending January 2017 – down $6.6m on the previous year. President Donald Trump has lambasted the company’s decision to drop his daughter Ivanka’s apparel range as politically motivated, a stance supported by actor Scott Baio, still best known as Chachi in the 1970s sitcom Happy Days. Yet Nordstrom says sales in the run up to the presidential election had slumped by 70%. Ivanka’s clothing, made in Asia under a licensing deal with G-III Apparel, still generates around $100m in sales.


The cumulative worldwide sales of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. This week, the author announced a companion to his blockbuster fantasy novels called The Book Of Dust which he described as an “equel” – ie not a sequel, or a prequel but a companion to – the earlier books – which will focus on Lyra Belacqua, the heroine of the Dark Materials, which is now being adapted by the BBC. The first instalment of The Book Of Dust, which will also be a trilogy, will be published in October 2017 and is available for pre-order now. 


The year by which the United Arab Emirates intends to build a city on Mars. Plans for human settlement on the Red Planet were unveiled this week, along with proposals to use robots to build a city there. The programme, which will rely on international scientific collaboration, reflects the UAE’s fascination with Earth’s neighbour – it is aiming to land a spacecraft there by 2021.

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