UK-EU agreement vital for supporting communities, jobs and living standards

Following another week of tough negotiations, the CBI is urging both the UK and EU to renew efforts to get a deal. That’s essential to protect people’s jobs and living standards amidst one of the worst recessions in living memory.

Deborah Fraser, CBI South West Director, says agreeing a deal between the UK and EU will have tangible, positive benefits for firms employing tens of thousands of people across the South West in industries such as advanced engineering and manufacturing, green technology and digital and cyber technologies. It will also underpin economic recovery across the UK, protecting our younger generation and the future of our public services.  

Getting a deal would mean zero tariffs and quotas – as well as closer customs cooperation – the only way to keep export and import costs low, and maintain manufacturing competitiveness across the South West. And securing good outcomes on important issues such as data and financial services will rely on agreeing a deal, together with finalising the Northern Ireland Protocol this year.  

Without an agreement, UK firms could face tariffs of up to 16.4%, burdening them with extra costs and paperwork. This will divert company resources from investment planning and spending from for growth to managing and mitigating red tape. Tariffs placed on imported goods could lead to higher prices and less choice for consumers, while export tariffs could damage the competitiveness of firms already reeling from the disruptive and economic effects of COVID-19.

Deborah Fraser, Regions and South West Director at the CBI, said:  
“Getting a good Brexit deal would be an immediate boost to confidence in the South West. It will help protect tens of thousands of businesses across the region already under huge pressure from the pandemic, not least in industries like advanced engineering and manufacturing, green technology and digital and cyber technologies, where CBI members in the South West have told us of their concerns at the likely impact of failed negotiations.

“A deal will form a foundation for a strong, growing relationship between the UK and EU in future. It will create space for both sides to focus on shared challenges – like creating jobs – rather than needlessly adding red tape, extra costs and paperwork.

“Securing good outcomes on important issues such as data and financial services – which sit outside the existing agreement – will be far easier having agreed a deal this year.

“While July’s GDP figures were encouraging, we are only halfway on the path to recovery, and a messy end to a turbulent year would stunt that recovery and impede businesses’ ability to protect jobs and invest in the future. A deal will allow us to make a grab for growth, delivering important investment at a critical time for the UK’s economic recovery.

“Getting a deal requires political leadership and compromise from both sides, which is needed urgently in the coming weeks.

“Failure to get an agreement would prolong uncertainty and damage businesses, while guaranteeing division and debate about Brexit for many years to come.”

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