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EEF calls for Brexit transition extension

29 October 2018

Failure to agree terms with WTO means UK needs more time to prepare for EU withdrawal, says the manufacturer’s organisation. Its CEO has called the Government's hope of the easy 'cut and paste' of existing deals as "naive".

Stephen Phipson CBE, chief executive of EEF, said an extension to the implementation or transition period was vital. International trade negotiations often take over 5 years and we are only at the beginning of this process.

"The Government has failed to prepare adequately for the time and complexity required to reach agreement with the WTO. While talks continue industry urgently needs clarity and stability. That means a significantly longer transition period following our exit from the EU.

"This will ensure UK manufacturing can continue to operate under the EU’s existing protections while the Government takes the time it needs to secure advantageous new trading deals with other countries.

"As we have consistently said, successful international trade deals take years to negotiate. The Government’s hope that agreeing a tariff schedule with the WTO would be simple was naïve. At a time of rising protectionism and the return of barriers to trade it is no great surprise that other countries have refused to accept our ‘cut and paste’ short-cut.

“Many of our members have been planning on the back of repeated assurances that membership of the WTO and new trading deals with other countries would be struck quickly and easily. Now the Government must recognise that this strategy has failed and it must allow industry sufficient time to prepare for an uncertain global trading relationship. We must not give up all the benefits of the EU.”