Over 100 SMEs, entrepreneurs and business associations have signed a letter urging the PM to avoid no deal or a bad deal in Brexit negotiations with the EU.
Instead, the signatories are calling on Boris Johnson to focus on securing the favourable trading arrangements to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and secure the economic recovery.
In a statement, Juergen Maier, former CEO of Siemens UK said: “This call for needing a close relationship and deal with the EU comes at a critical moment of a transition extension being ruled out and business focused on recovering from Covid. This is not a call to reopen old divisions about remaining or leaving. What we now need is a common sense approach to our relationship with the EU. The government must now deliver for us all, and on their promise to get a good deal, not a bad deal and definitely not a no deal.”
The letter comes in response to the UK government not seeking an extension of the Brexit Transition Period, which now leaves six months to negotiate a trade deal with the EU.
The alliance – which includes the Chemicals Business Association and Manufacturing Technology Association – says failure to seek an extension is a substantial risk, particularly considering the global economic impact of COVID-19.
Highlighting the government’s own analysis suggesting that the downside of a no-deal exit, compared to continuing with current arrangements, would be approximately eight per cent of GDP in 15 years time, businesses are calling for a reset in the tone and transparency of the negotiations in the remaining six months.
The letter calls for the PM to ensure that the UK achieves the best possible trading arrangements with the EU and other countries. Specifically, it calls for these trading arrangements to uphold the common high standards currently applicable on both sides in the areas of state aid, social and employment standards, environment, climate change and tax.
”Manufacturers are by definition the innovators and traders of our economy,” said James Selka, CEO of the Manufacturing Technology Association. “Supply chains are very integrated across the EU, thanks to the free movement of products facilitated by the single market over four decades. Any disruption caused due to non-tariff barriers caused by a bad EU trade deal will disrupt our businesses significantly at a time when we can least afford this.”
The businesses call also for continued alignment with EU regulatory bodies that allow free flow of products in areas including pharmaceutical, medical, and chemical supplies to minimise non-tariff barriers. They are also calling for assurance of an equivalence agreement with the EU for financial services.
Peter Newport, CEO of the Chemical Business Association said: ”A smooth flow of chemical industry products is critical for the economy to recover post-Covid. They are the foundation of most industries. A good EU trade deal with close alignment on chemical regulation and standards is the only way to avoid chemical supply chain disruption and have a negative impact on our economy.”