UK trade needs barrier-free access to Europe, warns CBI
UK firms need to continue to enjoy "barrier-free" access to European Union markets after Brexit, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has warned.
The employers' organisation said the new relationship with the EU should be tariff-free, with "minimal" non-tariff barriers across all sectors. Following a consultation with its members, the CBI also emphasised the importance of putting in place a post-Brexit migration system that allowed firms to access the skills and labour they needed.
At the same time, it reiterated its call for a "smooth exit" from the European Union, avoiding a "cliff edge" break if there is no new trade deal in place when the UK finally leaves. "There are serious concerns in the business community about disruption, if the day after the UK leaves the EU, its final 'deal' is not complete, with all trading and regulatory issues fully ironed out," it said.
Overall, the report called on the Government to adopt a "whole economy" approach to ensure individual sectors were not penalised. "Our consultation shows that the UK's new relationship with the EU needs to be tariff-free, with minimal non-tariff barriers across every sector," it said.
"There are some companies for whom avoiding high tariffs on their goods trade is critical, and others who prioritise avoiding non-tariff barriers to trade, particularly around services.
"Critically, it is clear that, for the UK's modern, interdependent economy, additional barriers to any sector's trade will be detrimental to other sectors.
"A new arrangement with the EU must therefore be open and comprehensive, covering goods and services, tariffs and non-tariff barriers." It said that businesses also needed a clear plan for future regulation.