Industry welcomes ongoing UK-EU trade talks but keeps options open

Published:  15 December, 2020

The extension of UK/EU talks for a post-Brexit trade deal beyond the deadline at the weekend was seen as positive across the industry, but companies in the sector have continued to prepare for a number of eventualities.

A deadlock seemed to be reached last week due to “major unresolved topics” around fisheries and the chance of divergent regulatory standards giving businesses on one side or the other a competitive advantage. However, Following a telephone conversation between P.M Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, it was announced that talks would continue.

In a joint statement, the two sides said: “Despite the exhaustion after almost a year of negotiations, despite the fact that deadlines have been missed over and over, we think it is responsible at this point to go the extra mile.”

Commenting on the decision, SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes said: “We welcome the commitment from both sides to continue talking and find a way through the political impasse – we now need negotiators to finish the job and agree the deal we all so desperately need, without further delay. ‘No deal’ would be nothing less than catastrophic for the automotive sector, its workers and their families and represent a stunning failure of statecraft. Quite simply, it has to be ruled out.”

Meanwhile, suppliers in the aftermarket are keeping their options open. BM Catalysts says is in the “best shape possible” to deal with all eventualities. The company has launched a Brexit resource to provide information and reassure customers:

In the event of a Free Trade Agreement being agreed between the EU and UK, goods of UK origin would be expected to have a zero-tariff rate under the terms of such an agreement. BM Catalysts believes that most catalogued part numbers are likely to meet the standard required to claim UK origin. If an FTA is not agreed, then WTO rules of origin would apply.

BM Catalysts Commercial Director Mark Blinston  said: “The work we have carried out on Brexit, as with COVID-19, has been considerable. The full resources of the company are available to customers and while the outcome of trade agreement talks is still unclear, what is certain is that the UK will experience some level of disruption whatever the outcome and so our preparations have been focused on ensuring we alleviate any issues for customers. As a result, we are fully confident we will be able to deal with any issues that arise, swiftly and efficiently.”

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