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 arguing that “securing a quick agreement matters greatly for jobs and livelihoods”.
They say that “clarity on an ambitious deal will turbocharge business preparations and increase confidence in the U.K. as a place to invest” and “crucially, it will also help ease the sustainable implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol”.
The joint statement (below) from the coalition of bodies was 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.
“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.”
Suzannah Nichol MBE, chief executive of Build UK, representing the construction sector – an industry that employs over that million people and is valued at 8.6 per cent of GDP – said: “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.”
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 cooperating with our neighbours so we can maximise our common efforts to decarbonise and support a Green Recovery.”
Steve Elliott, CEO 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 per cent of manufacturing activity, there will be a significant hit on other industries if there is no deal. We need that deal.”
Ian Wright CBE, CEO of the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), representing 7,500 food and drink manufacturers employing 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.”