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2018: Challenges & opportunities

01 February, 2018

The New Year always brings challenges and opportunities, and for the UK, 2018 presents an abundance of both.

2017 ended with some good news in regards to Brexit negotiations, with UK business groups jointly welcoming progress, However they have also called for an agreement on a transition deal as soon as possible.

The joint industry group statement emphasised that a transition period must now be agreed as soon as possible, to give businesses in every region and nation of the UK time to prepare for the future relationship. It continues that further delays to discussions on an EU-UK trade deal could have damaging consequences for business investment and trade, as firms in 2018 review their investment plans and strategies.

The importance of this transition deal cannot be overstated in my opinion. And for this reason I agree with the growing calls from Britain’s manufacturers for business to be fully involved in negotiations on a future transition deal with the European Union as progress on talks moves into a second stage.

According to EEF, such practice has been the case in Canada and Australia, where business has been fully consulted in the negotiation of free trade deals.

I agree with the EEF, that it is essential that business is provided with clarity on a transition deal as a matter of urgency if companies are not to trigger contingency plans early in 2018. Despite the successful move to a second phase of talks, there remain considerable hurdles to surmount to provide business in the UK, and across Europe, with the necessary reassurance.

Commenting, EEF chief executive, Stephen Phipson, said: “Now that the dust has settled it’s time for the Government to bring UK industry into the heart of the negotiations on a future transition or implementation deal, as well as the long-term future trade or partnership arrangements.”

The logic is beyond argument that UK industry should be involved. The EEF has pointed out that this is standard practice in countries experienced in negotiating free trade deals and it is critical that businesses have confidence the UK’s negotiators fully understand the implications of their actions.

We do not want to be sitting here in 12 months staring at a cliff edge and last minute brinkmanship, which is damaging for all forms of commerce and confidence.

Aaron Blutstien

Editor

Smart Machines & Factories

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