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Covid hit businesses call for pragmatic approach to secure historic UK-EU agreement – CBI & trade associations

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The CBI and 71 trade associations and professional bodies representing 190,000 businesses and seven million employees are calling for politicians on both sides to carve a path towards a deal. Sectors from automotive to aviation, chemicals to creative industries, and farming and food to pharmaceuticals – are united: securing a quick agreement matters greatly for jobs and livelihoods.  

Clarity on an ambitious deal will turbo charge business preparations and increase confidence in the U.K. as a place to invest. Crucially, it will also help ease the sustainable implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The statement outlines how a deal will help their sector contribute fully to the UK’s economic recovery. It follows an intervention earlier this week by leading European business groups from France, Germany and Italy, calling for ‘a solution which ensures smooth trading conditions’.

Richard Burnett, Chief Executive of The Road Haulage Associationrepresenting the UK’s road transport sector said “A deal is clearly in the best interests of both sides. However, for road hauliers customs bureaucracy will still need to be addressed and despite these transactions rising by 200m per annum, based on current figures there will be a significant shortfall of trained customs agents to manage the process.”

“Since the UK voted to leave the EU four years ago the RHA has been working tirelessly to establish how future processes and systems will work. Government must provide complete processes without gaps so all businesses across all sectors can prepare”.

Suzannah Nichol MBE, Chief Executive of Build UK representing the Construction sector, an industry which employs over 3 million people and is valued at 8.6% of GDPsaid: “Certainty is vital to the whole construction supply chain and there is currently very little of that around. The sector has continued working throughout the coronavirus pandemic and is stepping up to support the Government’s ‘Build Build Build’ strategy. Responding to yet more uncertainty will be extremely challenging, so a deal with the EU is essential to enable businesses to focus on protecting their people and building back the economy.”

Richard Torbett, Chief Executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) said: “The pharmaceutical industry has been very clear that, despite preparing for all outcomes, getting a comprehensive trade deal is the best outcome for the UK and EU. The coronavirus pandemic has stretched hospitals and medicine supply chains to their capacity. It is absolutely clear that it’s in nobody’s interest – and certainly not patients – to face the future with uncertainty around how medicines will be regulated, tested and moved throughout Europe and the UK.”


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The joint statement reads: 

“Now is the time for historic political leadership. With compromise and tenacity, a deal can be done. Businesses call on leaders on both sides to find a route through.”

“The clarity that comes with an ambitious deal will have an instant impact on firms’ efforts to prepare. It will help investment by removing the threat of tariffs and quotas. And it will catalyse confidence through enhanced customs cooperation while making a precious data agreement possible, vital for services industries which make up 80% of the UK economy.” 

“Businesses are doing what they can to prepare for Brexit. But firms face a hat-trick of unprecedented challenges: rebuilding from the first wave of COVID-19, dealing with the second and uncertainty over the UK’s trading relationship with the EU.”

“That’s why more than three quarters of UK firms say they need a deal, quickly.” 

“With each day that passes, business resilience is chipped away. A swift deal is the single most effective way to support recovery in communities across Europe.”  

“After four years of debate, there must be a resolution. 2021 can then be a year to rebuild, rather than regret.” 

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