Ministers in talks over Dutch warning to avoid UK components
Labour says action by the Netherlands government is a threat to British manufacturers.
The Government has said it is treating a warning by the Dutch government to its country’s manufacturers to avoid British components as an “extremely high priority”.
The Dutch are reported to have told their businesses they risk losing free trade access to the EU after Brexit if they source too many parts from the UK.
Under EU “rules of origin”, at least 55% of a products components must come from within the EU if it is to qualify for free trade access.
Treasury Minister Mel Stride said the issue had been raised at the highest levels of Government and that they were “confident” of resolving the issue as part of the ongoing Brexit negotiations.
“We’ve certainly had in-depth conversations with a number of businesses around this issue of rules of origin. This is very high on our agenda,” he told BBC Radio 4’s World At One.
“It is an extremely high priority. It is one that I, the Chancellor, the Prime Minister and others are very much engaged with.”
Mr Stride said that ministers had until the end of the post-Brexit transition period – which runs to the end of December 2020 – to “bottom out” the issues.
However shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner warned that would be too late for many UK firms.
“This is happening now. Companies are going to – on the advice of the Dutch government – stop using UK parts in their manufacture,” he told World At One.
“That is a problem for our country and a problem for our manufacturers. The Government don’t have a plan to deal with this.”