Press Release

Reacting to today’s publication of the Government’s White Paper ‘The United Kingdom’s exit from and new partnership with the European Union’, the Country’s biggest manufacturing exporter has called for unity.

Speaking today, Steve Elliott the Chief Executive of the Chemical Industries Association said “I hope the two-year uncertainty we have had since the referendum is now at an end. Negotiations with the European Union need to make progress. The October Council of the EU is a critical meeting where at least Heads of Agreement on our future relationship must be in place. Any Government about to begin these negotiations needs the support and cooperation of all of us including business. Like others, we do not agree with everything but the general direction of the ‘common rule book’, it’s regulatory consistency and the freedom of companies to move people around our continent, as well as the zero friction in a free trade area, is the sort of aim that will make the UK an attractive place to invest – if we can convince the EU 27 to support such a relationship. I am especially pleased that the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has been again formally recognised. This is an encouraging step forward for manufacturing. It recognises our long-standing concerns on both sides of the channel around supply chain disruption through tariffs, delays at customs and/or regulatory divergence. 

The White Paper responds positively to those concerns. I hope this is received favourably in Brussels and member state capitals so we can move quickly to negotiate a future that secured and builds jobs and growth. As an industry, we are ready to support that in whatever way we can.

Although it has taken some time to get here, we strongly believe that the proposal outlined by the government, whilst not perfect, is a sensible and workable approach that will deliver the independence that the referendum result demanded with an ongoing, viable and productive common market across Europe. 

While we and many others will have been involved in negotiations before, no one knows for certain the implications of the many possible conclusions of a situation like this, it is new territory. The two known facts are that we are leaving and there is mounting pressure to have at least a ‘Heads of Agreement’ with the European Union on our future relationship – whatever that may be. Our businesses do not think in terms of hard Brexit/soft Brexit etc. but we want to see the future as an exciting opportunity for Britain, delivering high tech solutions that benefit and help every community and every citizen.

Our companies have factories, laboratories and offices in parts of the country where jobs are needed and we want to stay and grow there. To do that we need to convince our owners that investments should be made in the UK. The best way of doing that is not to have a cheap, race to the bottom economy but to develop the innovation and manufacture for the future. A positive and strong trading relationship with the member states of the European Union will be an important part of making that vision become a reality.

Let us all say to the Government get on with it and complete the job”.



For further information please contact Simon Marsh on 07951 389197 or [email protected].

  • The chemical and pharmaceutical industry adds £18 billion of value to the UK economy every year from total annual turnover of £50 billion.
  • In addition to gross value added, the sector also contributes to the UK economy in its position at the head of many supply chains within manufacturing and its employment of a well remunerated, high-skilled workforce. We support 500,000 jobs both directly and indirectly Chemical manufacturing adds £9 billion in gross value added annually and pharmaceutical manufacturing £9 billion.
  • The wider chemical and pharmaceutical sector (manufacturing plus distribution) is the largest exporter of manufactured goods with annual exports of over £50 billion. The export of motor vehicle, trailers and semi-trailers is the sector with next highest exports of £35 billion. Aerospace is £32 billion.
  • 63% of companies in the sector export what they make to the world, the highest proportion of any goods manufacturing sector in the UK economy. 60% of our exports go to the European Union and 75% of our imports and raw materials come from the European Union.
  • The sector’s level of business investment is £4.3 billion, compared to automotive £2.7 billion and aerospace £2.1 billion, while the expenditure on research & development is £5.0 billion (automotive £2.7 billion and aerospace £2.1 billion).

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Simon Marsh

07951 389197

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020 7963 6791

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