Global Business Daily: China's foreign trade boom, UK jobs woe, solar shines
Patrick Atack in London

"The annual increase was the largest since September to November 2011 and the quarterly increase was the largest since May to July 2009." 

That was the statement from the UK Office for National Statistics as it announced the worst period for UK unemployment in at least three years – with the biggest jump since the 2008 Global Financial Crisis. 

In business everyone is looking for an edge, for that USP, or unique selling point, and P&O Cruises thinks it's found one – launching in 2021, the whopping 2,500-berth Iona cruise ship will have a gin distillery onboard.  

On an unrelated note, if there are any P&O representatives reading this, my email is at the bottom on this briefing… Do let me know if you need anyone to, um, test this new facility. 

Yesterday we reported on the Qantas "flight to nowhere" and today it's the turn of another large airline with a novel solution to the COVID-19 business crisis. Singapore Airlines is offering lunch on an Airbus A380. The catch? It won't be taking off. Scroll down to read more. 

Finally, our correspondent in Madrid, Rahul Pathak, sent a report on the mass protest by nurses in the Spanish capital, which overshadowed the country's national day celebrations. You can watch his report below. 

Happy reading, 

Patrick Atack

Digital business correspondent 

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China reported growth in its foreign trade in September, with exports and imports in US dollars rising 9.9 percent and 13.2 percent respectively from last year. "China's exports and imports have consistently beaten the market expectation. Trade in September accelerated from the previous month," Wang Dan, chief economist with Hang Seng Bank China, told CGTN.

Singapore Airlines is opening up two of its A380 jet liners for lunch at the international Changi airport in the city state. The airline will serve a full menu in the business class suites, sold at $466 and a more affordable option – the tray and a back-of-the-seat movie is available in the economy cabin for $45. It's been such a popular idea the airline has set up a waiting list for disappointed customers to register for future lunches. 

The UK's unemployment rate rose to its highest level in three years between June and August. The amount of jobless people grew to 4.5 percent (1.5 million people), up from 4.2 percent in the previous quarter and 3.9 percent year-on-year, according to data released by the country's Office for National Statistics. See more in today's graphic. 

The International Energy Agency has predicted a boom in solar energy over the next decade, with renewables expected to account for 80 percent of growth in global electricity supply. In its annual report on policy intentions and targets already announced, solar and wind power are expected to overtake coal by 2025. 

The former head of the U.S. government's National Security Agency has warned the risk of corporate cyber attacks has risen due to the global pandemic and the huge increase in people working from home. Home internet connections are usually less secure than office infrastructure, Michael Rogers said. 

The world's largest container shipping firm Maersk is to lay off at least 2,000 employees, despite announcing a faster-than-expected recovery from the COVID-19 shutdown earlier in the year and an improved profit outlook as a result. 

The European Union won the right to impose tariffs on $4 billion worth of U.S. goods, retaliating to subsidies granted to plane maker Boeing, expanding a dispute that has already seen Washington put import levies on EU imports. The row dates back to the U.S. dispute over EU states giving aid to Airbus. 

A patient's "adverse reaction" to a possible COVID-19 vaccine has paused all trials at the U.S. drug maker Johnson & Johnson, the company confirmed, without giving further details. It is currently unknown if the reaction was caused by the vaccine candidate or another factor. J&J's third-phase trial was the first of its kind.

Despite the near-total shutdown of the cruise holiday industry, UK firm P&O Cruises has taken delivery of one of the largest recreational ships to ever set sail from the UK. The P&O Iona has room for 2,500 travelers and hosts what is thought to be the world's first floating gin distillery. It was built in Germany at a cost of $950 million. 

Research by the British Retail Consortium and KPMG found UK shops are benefiting from a boost to home improvement spending, as potential for another lockdown accelerates in the country, with rising case numbers. The BRC's CEO Helen Dickinson said: "With office workers still at home for the foreseeable future, the sales of electronics, household goods and home office products have remained high."

G20 finance ministers will meet tomorrow, as the IMF and World Bank also meet and the group is expected to expand its debt service suspension initiative, which lets lendee nations ask for debt repayment postponement of up to four years. The policy is still less than many nations have asked for, as the plan only allows repayments planned for 2020 to be moved, not those into 2021.


WATCH: As Spain marked its national day amid surging coronavirus infections in the country, nurses in Madrid did not feel like celebrating. Instead, they protested against their working conditions.



Former diplomat and current chair of the China Britain Business Council, Sherard Cowper-Coles, spoke to CGTN Europe about what businesses need to recover properly from the pandemic and how multilateral ties between nations and continents can help. 


There is so much uncertainty around with Brexit, the continuing pandemic and the U.S. elections. How damaging is all this for businesses? 

What businesses want is stability and of course, above all, for their employees, for their customers, for the societies in which they operate. The China Britain Business Council believes in international trade as a tide on which which floats all boats.


Do you feel the business community should have had more involvement in policy making?

We remain involved at both ends of the relationship. And for post-COVID, post-Brexit Britain, we're going to have three major trading partners: the European Union, by far the largest; then the United States; and then China. And of those three, China is the one with the largest potential upside.


What's the current state of business and economic ties between China and the UK? 

So it's a multi-strand economic and commercial relationship, which is win-win for both countries and something that in the context of post-COVID, post-Brexit Britain trading its way back to prosperity, we hope can be maintained. Whatever the political differences.