Region needs Brexit deal ‘to protect it from worst recession in living memory’, warns CBI
PUBLISHED: 00:00 15 September 2020
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Higher prices and less consumer choice could be on the cards unless the UK reaches a deal with the European Union (EU) over Brexit, East Anglian business leaders have warned.
CBI East of England director Richard Tunnicliffe cautioned against “a messy end to a turbulent year” which he said would hit the economy at a vital moment.
The business lobby group is urging the UK and the EU to renew their efforts to get a deal following a difficult week for the Brexit negotiations.
This was “essential” to protect people’s jobs and living standards amid one of the worst recessions in living memory, it said.
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A deal would have “tangible, positive benefits” for firms employing tens of thousands of people across the East of England, said Mr Tunnicliffe, and would underpin economic recovery across the UK.
The CBI sees zero tariffs and quotas – as well as closer customs cooperation – as the “only way” to keep export and import costs low, and maintain manufacturing competitiveness across the East of England.
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Without this, UK firms could face swingeing tariffs of up to 16.4%, it warned, leading to higher prices and less choice for consumers, while export tariffs could damage the competitiveness of firms already reeling from the disruptive and economic effects of coronavirus.
“Getting a good Brexit deal would be an immediate boost to confidence in the East of England. It will help protect tens of thousands of businesses across the region already under huge pressure from the pandemic,” said Mr Tunnicliffe.
“A deal will form a foundation for a strong, growing relationship between the UK and EU in future. It will create space for both sides to focus on shared challenges – like creating jobs – rather than needlessly adding red tape, extra costs and paperwork.
“Securing good outcomes on important issues such as data and financial services – which sit outside the existing agreement – will be far easier having agreed a deal this year.”
While July’s GDP figures were “encouraging”, the UK was only “halfway” on the path to recovery. “A messy end to a turbulent year would stunt that recovery and impede businesses’ ability to protect jobs and invest in the future. A deal will allow us to make a grab for growth, delivering important investment at a critical time for the UK’s economic recovery,” he said.
He called for political leadership and compromise from both sides in the coming weeks.
“Failure to get an agreement would prolong uncertainty and damage businesses, while guaranteeing division and debate about Brexit for many years to come,” he said.
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