The chemical industry - the country’s largest manufacturing exporter - has expressed some relief over today’s agreement between the UK and the EU.
Steve Elliott, Chief Executive of the Chemical Industries Association, reacted positively to confirmation of zero tariffs: “We have consistently called for the threat of tariffs to be avoided, so we very much welcome the commitment and hard work from both parties in securing that outcome. Failure here would have seen an annual cost of at least £1 billion to the chemical industry”.
He continued “We now obviously await the full detail of the agreement. The Prime Minister has today mentioned chemicals as an industry where we have the potential to do our own thing. With that in mind we need to see, in particular, the extent of regulatory cooperation agreed with regard to the industry’s REACH responsibilities. Failure to secure access to what has been a decade’s worth of investment by UK chemical businesses in data for EU REACH will leave the industry facing a bill of more than £1 billion in unnecessarily duplicating that work for a new UK regime. For the Prime Minister’s words to hold true it is our view that all our efforts now must be focused on working with the authorities to deliver a chemicals regulatory regime that is efficient, innovation-friendly and sensitive to international competitiveness. Such an approach will also enable us to provide reassurance over any health and environmental concerns”.
He concluded, “although this Free Trade Agreement represents a mixed bag for our industry, we shouldn’t underestimate the huge value that a deal brings in terms of certainty. Chemical businesses all over the UK have proved to be hugely resilient over this most uncertain and challenging of years, and a predictable trading environment with our most important market-place, coupled with emergence from COVID-19, should make 2021 a year to look forward to”.
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