Manufacturers call for business involvement in trade negotiations

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Manufacturers are calling for business to be fully involved in negotiations on a future transition deal with the European Union as progress on talks moves into a second stage.

The call, made by EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, comes on the back of Friday’s agreement with the EU and ahead of the European Council meeting later this week. According to EEF, such practice has been the case in Canada and Australia, where business has been fully consulted in the negotiation of free trade deals to ensure that trade negotiators understand the implications of their proposals.

According to EEF, it is essential that business is provided with clarity on a transition deal as a matter of urgency if companies are not to trigger contingency plans early in 2018. Despite the successful move to a second phase of talks, there remain considerable hurdles to surmount to provide business in the UK, and across Europe, with the necessary reassurance.

Commenting, EEF Chief Executive, Stephen Phipson, said:“Now that the dust has settled it’s time for the Government to bring UK industry into the heart of the negotiations on a future transition or implementation deal, as well as the long-term future trade or partnership arrangements.

“This is standard practice in countries experienced in negotiating free trade deals and it is critical that businesses have confidence the UK’s negotiators fully understand the implications of their actions.

“The starting point for manufacturers – on both sides of the Channel – is to deliver a ‘status quo’ implementation period where UK and European businesses can get on with trade as usual while the final deal is thrashed out. We don’t want to be facing any more cliff edges and last minute brinkmanship, which is damaging for all forms of commerce and confidence.”