Latest News | 6 January 2021

Chamber chief calls for Brexit clarity

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East Midlands Chamber has called for greater clarity on the UK-EU trade agreement so businesses can continue to trade with certainty.

Just before Christmas it was announced that a trade deal has been struck between negotiators on both sides – and at 11pm on New Year’s Eve, the UK finally left the EU after four years of uncertainty.

While welcoming the agreement, the chamber has called on the Government to provide more clarity about the deal, particularly for firms who currently trade across borders.

Chief executive Scott Knowles said: “It is clearly good news the UK and EU have reached an agreement that will let companies get off the Brexit rollercoaster and plan for the future.

“Businesses will now need to digest the agreement and consider what its detailed provisions will mean for firms moving goods, people and data across borders.

Scott Knowles

“However welcome, the UK-EU agreement can’t mask some inconvenient truths.

“The sooner it is made clear that a UK-EU agreement is not a silver bullet that sweeps away new trade barriers and bureaucracy, the better.

“In some areas, the onus is still squarely on the UK Government to step up and provide the clarity that companies require to trade across borders – on processes, software, regulatory regimes and many other issues besides.

“The provisions of the agreement will in themselves give rise to some additional complexity, as businesses across the UK and the EU work out the direct impact on their operations.

“Nowhere is this more acute and urgent than for businesses trading between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.”

Mr Knowles said he believed that following the agreement, new opportunities could arise for the region.

He said: “This will not be an easy change for many businesses that have also been struggling to deal with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Yet with greater clarity on the terms of trade, businesses can plan — and once again start looking for new opportunities.

“In the East Midlands, we believe the region has great potential to become the logistics hub of the UK by building on the strategic importance of East Midlands Airport, which is already the UK’s busiest pure freight airport.

“The neighbouring SEGRO East Midlands Gateway Logistics Park has become a magnet for major consumer brands and logistics heavyweights.

“The chamber is firmly behind any potential bid for securing freeport status, which we believe would bring massive inward investment opportunities to the region and ensure we play a central role in Britain’s post-Brexit trading relationship with the rest of the world.”

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