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COVID-Hit Businesses Call for Pragmatic Approach to Secure Historic UK-EU Agreement – CBI & TRADE ASSOCIATIONS

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 below (see Notes to Editors for full list of signatories) is accompanied by details from 21 trade associations and professional bodies outlining 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’.

 

Joint statement starts:

“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.”

 

Quotes begin:

Stephen Woodford, CEO of the Advertising Association said: “A deal is vital for the advertising industry. Around 1 million jobs across the whole of the UK are dependent on advertising and many industries such as media, arts, sport and culture depend on it for their revenues. To make Brexit a success and allow us to focus on the economic recovery, it is imperative that we secure an EU data adequacy decision and get a comprehensive deal that covers services and mobility.”

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.”

Paul Everitt, Chief Executive of ADS said: “The UK’s aerospace, defence, space and security industries will face major disruption without a deal, through delays to cross-border trade, costly administrative requirements and a new regulatory system. Businesses in our sectors are facing a daily struggle to survive as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, which has put 30,000 aerospace jobs at risk. A deal that delivers global market access and protects sensitive cross-border supply chains is essential”.

Dr Laura Cohen, Chief Executive of the British Ceramic Confederation, representing UK ceramic manufacturers and 17,500 pre-COVID-19 jobs said: “With 57% of members’ exports going to the EU, a deal is vital. Reaching a deal with the EU is imperative in order for the sector to be able to bounce back and continue tackling the challenges of decarbonising whilst staying internationally competitive”.

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 GDP: “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.”

Steve Elliott, Chief Executive of the Chemical Industries Association which represents businesses responsible for half a million jobs, said “I am concerned that the cumulative, negative impact of these priorities under a WTO outcome will make life much tougher for chemical businesses across the UK, the majority of which are foreign-headquartered. In regions and areas such as the North East, the Humber Bank and North West of England plus Central Scotland and South Wales, the chemical sector is critical to the local economies in terms of highly skilled, productive and well-rewarded jobs. We are the UK’s biggest manufacturing exporter. As a key foundation industry serving 95% of manufacturing activity, there will be a significant hit on other industries if there is no deal. We need that deal.”

Caroline Norbury, CEO of Creative Industries Federation, representing the creative industries sector and 2.1 million jobs said: “The EU is a major market for the UK’s creative industries, with the UK exporting £15.4 billion in creative service exports to the EU each year. More than that, access to world-leading creative talent and the ability for the UK’s creative practitioners to tour the EU without undue cost or red tape has been a major contributor to the success of the UK’s creative industries, enabling the sector to grow five times as fast as the wider economy. Securing a deal will not only provide our world-leading sector with a level of certainty in what are highly uncertain times, it will enable the UK’s creative industries to remain highly competitive, innovative and able to drive the UK’s economic, social and cultural regeneration as we move forward.”

Emma Pinchbeck, CEO of Energy UK, representing the Energy sector said: “A deal is the best outcome for the energy sector, which supports over 730,000 jobs in the UK, and our customers. It will help keep bills down, maintain efficient cross-border trading and enable us to keep co-operating with our neighbours so we can maximise our common efforts to decarbonise and support a Green Recovery”.

Ian Wright CBE, CEO of the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), representing 7,500 food and drink manufacturers who employ over 430,000 people as a key part of the UK’s wider food chain which employs 4.3 million people, said, “It is vital we secure a deal which enables the UK’s food and drink manufacturers to feed the nation and maintain UK food security. No deal would cause deep damage to the UK’s largest manufacturing industry and put at risk the choice, quality and affordability of food and drink available to UK shoppers and consumers.”

Michael Izza, ICAEW Chief Executive representing chartered accountants said: “Faced with the more immediate threat from the resurgence of COVID-19, many companies have been awaiting the results of the UK-EU negotiations before investing time, money and effort in preparing for the end of transition. We were hoping for a positive outcome to the EU Summit so the latest developments are very disappointing.

“Time is critically short. It is difficult to overstate the scale and complexity of the changes businesses will need to make. Government must move swiftly to support companies in adapting to whatever new trading relationship with Europe will start in January. Chartered accountants can play a key role in this but they – and the managers and directors they advise – need greater clarity in a number of basic and practical areas such as customs procedures and requirements. We ask government to make this a priority.

“We still look forward to the confirmation in due course of a comprehensive agreement, including provision for the effective mutual recognition of professional qualifications and confirmation of equivalence with respect to statutory audit. Uncertainty is never good news for business confidence, and we urge government to redouble its efforts to secure a fair deal which will help to stimulate and sustain the UK’s economic recovery.”

David Greene, President of the Law Society of England and Wales said: “While an FTA is not a silver bullet for the services sector, striking a deal will create the best atmosphere for the UK and EU to agree further cooperation in areas that do not fall in the scope of the FTA negotiations. These include critical issues like data adequacy or the UK government request to accede to the Lugano Convention on recognition and enforcement of judgments.”

David Wells, CEO of Logistics UK, representing the entire logistics industry with members from the road, rail, sea and air industries, as well as the buyers of freight services said: “A deal is vital for the transport and logistics industry and for the whole economy, which relies on fast and efficient supply chains. To keep Britain trading, trucks must keep going through the borders with the least possible friction; a deal with the EU is vital to achieve this and to enable the sector to focus on maintaining its resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic and investing to improve performance”.

James Selka, CEO of the Manufacturing Technologies Association (MTA), representing all technologies that enable advanced manufacturing said : “A deal is vital for the UK Manufacturing sector to encourage investment in an activity that supports 5 million jobs and positively impacts 15% of UK GDP. COVID has impacted the confidence to invest and If a deal is reached, the sector will be able to focus on being a key part of rebuilding our economy.”

Terry Jones, Director General of the NFU of England & Wales, representing the nations’ farming sector covering over 70% of the UK landmass and underpinning a UK food and farming industry worth more than £120 billion to the economy and employing more than 4 million people, said: “The EU, as a single trading bloc, is the most important international market for UK agri-food products, and given its size and proximity will continue to be so in the future. That is why it’s critically important that a tariff free, quota free deal is struck as soon as possible. Securing a tariff free deal will help the nation’s farmers maintain vital trade links and ensure that they can continue supplying British consumers with high quality, affordable food produced to trusted high standards, with European consumers continuing to benefit too.” In 2018 62% of UK agri-food products exports were to the EU and 70% UK agri food imports were from the EU.

Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation said: “Services make up over 80% of our economy and must not be forgotten about. Recruitment alone is worth over £35.7bn annually to Britain – and is an export sector. Our services sectors rely on a deal to minimise disruption for clients, and to encourage greater cross-border services trade through high mobility, professional qualification recognition and low barriers to establishment in the EU and UK. The COVID-19 crisis has left office-based services firms with little bandwidth for other matters and they urgently need clarity on practical questions like invoicing, taxation, contracts and data.”

Richard Burnett, Chief Executive of The Road Haulage Association, representing 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”.

Mike Hawes, Chief Executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), representing the UK automotive sector and some 850,000 jobs, said: “The pandemic has caused immense damage to UK Automotive, costing thousands of jobs and soaking up precious resource. A second blow of tariffs, which would instantly raise prices and destroy competitiveness, would be devastating so we need a deal now – and not just any deal, one that is as free in reality as it is on paper. Only an ambitious deal that delivers for this critical sector will safeguard livelihoods and drive investment into the new skills, facilities and technologies so integral to delivering a zero carbon future for the UK.”

Julian David, CEO of techUK, representing 750,000 employees said: “The tech sector is one of the fastest growing in the UK with much of this growth underpinned by trade with the EU. A deal is in the interests of both the UK and EU tech sectors and the clarity provided by reaching an agreement will help businesses prepare for the end of the transition period. A UK-EU deal will also provide a constructive basis on which to reset a positive trading relationship and will support the trust and co-operation needed to achieve a data adequacy agreement so important for businesses across all sectors”.

Miles Celic, Chief Executive Officer, TheCityUK, said, “Reaching a Brexit deal still matters for financial and related professional services trade. A deal will help with key outstanding issues such as regulatory, supervisory and civil judicial cooperation, data adequacy and the granting of equivalence. Whatever the outcome, London and the UK will continue as the premier European and global financial centre, but this must be supported by the UK remaining open, outward-looking and continuing to be one of the most globally competitive places to do business.”

Adam Mansell, CEO of the UK Fashion and Textile Association representing a sector that employs over 800,000 people said: “The EU accounts for over 70% of our exports and a deal is vital to protect trade with our biggest market. Covid-19 has meant businesses have been unable to prepare for the impact of a ‘no deal’ and accelerated the shift to online, creating a faster-moving consumer environment. A deal will support growth in domestic and near-shore supply chains to meet that demand, secure UK jobs and provide a significant boost to the thousands of businesses that export to the EU.’’

Helen Brocklebank, Chief Executive of Walpole, the representative of British luxury with over 270 members, said: “British Luxury is a sector that brings £48bn to the UK economy each year and supports over 160,000 highly skilled, sustainable jobs throughout the UK. A deal that removes the spectre of tariffs and quotas is needed with speed. For too long our businesses have operated in an environment of uncertainty. This cannot continue if British luxury is to recover from the pandemic and continue to provide economic growth and enhance the Global Britain brand.”

Full list of signatories

Stephen Woodford, CEO of the Advertising Association (AA)
Richard Torbett, Chief Executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI)
Helen Brand OBE, CEO of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)
Paul Everitt, Chief Executive of ADS Group
Tim Alderslade, CEO of Airlines UK
Karen Dee, Chief Executive of the Airports Operators Association (AOA)
Paul Hide, CEO of AMEDA
Dids Macdonald OBE, CEO of Anti Copying in Design (ACID)
Ann Swain, CEO of The Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo)
Helen Brand OBE, Chief Executive of Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)
David Camp, CEO of Association of Labour Providers (ALP)
Paul Hide, CEO of The Association of Manufacturers of Domestic Appliances
John White, CEO of Bacta
Tony Smith, Chairman of British Measurement and Testing Association (BMTA)
Wayne Grills, CEO of British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI)
Dr Laura Cohen MBE, Chief Executive of the British Ceramic Confederation (BCC)
Tom Bowtell, CEO Of British Coatings Federation (BCF)
Ellen Daniels, CEO of British Compressed Gases Association (BCGA)
Emma English, Executive Director of British Educational Travel Association (BETA)
Christopher Buxton, CEO of The British Fluid Power Association (BFPA)
Lucy Reece-Raybould, CEO of British Footwear Association (BFA)
Robert Keen, Director General of British International Freight Association (BIFA)
Lesley Brian, CEO of British Marine
John Newcomb, CEO of British Merchants Federation (BMF)
Richard Ballantyne, Chief Executive of the British Ports Association (BPA)
Melanie Leech CBE, CEO of British Property Federation (BPF)
Helen Dickinson, CEO of the British Retail Consortium (BRC)
Mike Reddington, Chief Executive of British Security Industry Association (BSIA)
Rob Cooper, Managing Director of British Stainless Steel Association (BSSA)
Gerry Keaney, CEO of British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA)
Suzannah Nichol MBE, Chief Executive of Build UK
David Frise, CEO of Building Engineering Services Association (BESA)
Julia Evans OBE, CEO of Building Services Research and Information Association (BSRIA)
Ann Francke OBE, CEO of The Chartered Management Institute (CMI)
Steve Elliott, Chief Executive of the Chemical Industries Association (CIA)
Peter Newport, CEO of Chemical Business Association (CBA)
Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, Director General of Confederation of British Industry (CBI)
Geraldine Bolton, CEO of Confederation of British Metalforming (CBM)
Stuart Goodall, CEO of Confederation of Forest Industries (Confor)
Mark Bridgeman, President of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA)
Caroline Norbury, CEO of Creative Industries Federation
Chris Combemale, CEO of Data & Marketing Association (DMA)
Deb Oxley OBE, CEO of Employee Ownership Association (EOA)
Emma Pinchbeck, CEO of Energy UK
Jack Semple, Alliance Secretary of Engineering and Machinery Alliance (EAMA)
Kim Bailey, CEO of Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA)
Ian Wright CBE, CEO of the Food and Drink Federation (FDF)
Gordon Polson, CEO of Federation of Bakers (Fob)
Russell Beattie, CEO of Federation of Environmental Trade Associations
Stephen Hadrill, CEO of Finance and Leasing Association (FLA)
Vicky Nuttall, Director of GIMA
Michael Izza, Chief Executive of Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW)
David Hare, CEO of Independent Healthcare Providers Network
David Greene, President of the Law Society of England and Wales
David Wells, CEO of Logistics UK
James Selka, CEO of the Manufacturing Technologies Association (MTA)
Alex Waugh, Director General of The National Association of British and Irish Millers (nabim)
Terry Jones, Director General of the NFU of England & Wales
Deidre Michie OBE, Chief Executive Officer of Oil and Gas UK (OGUK)
Michael Bellingham, Chief Executive of Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA)
Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC)
Richard Burnett, Chief Executive of The Road Haulage Association (RHA)
Karen Betts, CEO of Scotch Whisky Association (SWA)
Mike Hawes, CEO of Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Limited (SMMT)
Julian David, CEO of techUK
Miles Celic, Chief Executive Officer, TheCityUK
David Dalton-Brown, CEO of The Investing and Saving Alliance (TISA)
Kurt Jansen, Director of Tourism Alliance
Bob Sanguinetti, Chief Executive of UK Chamber of Shipping
Adam Mansell, CEO of the UK Fashion and Textile Association
Kate Nichols, CEO of UK Hospitality
Helen Brocklebank, Chief Executive of Walpole