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East Midlands Chamber News

EU trade deal agreed: East Midlands Chamber responds to Brexit announcement

Responding to the announcement that a trade deal has been agreed between the UK and EU, East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire) chief executive Scott Knowles said: “A muted and weary cheer will go up from businesses today after four long years of uncertainty and upheaval.

“It is clearly good news the UK and EU have reached an agreement that will let companies get off the Brexit rollercoaster and plan for the future.

“Businesses will now need to digest the agreement, and consider what its detailed provisions will mean for firms moving goods, people and data across borders, with very little time left to prepare for change.

“However welcome, the UK-EU agreement can’t mask some inconvenient truths. It neither answers all of businesses’ longstanding questions, nor does it somehow stop the clock at one minute to midnight. The sooner it is made clear that a UK-EU agreement is not a silver bullet that sweeps away new trade barriers and bureaucracy, the better.

“In some areas, the onus is still squarely on the UK Government to step up and provide the clarity that companies require to trade across borders – on processes, software, regulatory regimes and many other issues besides.

“The provisions of the agreement will in themselves give rise to some additional complexity, as businesses across the UK and the EU work out the direct impact on their operations. Nowhere is this more acute and urgent than for businesses trading between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

“Now that the two sides have reached agreement, we call on them to proceed speedily to ratification to give certainty to our economies and trade.

“They must also keep up the dialogue and momentum — and agree a broad range of practical easements on border measures to give businesses time and breathing space to adjust to new realities. It is normal for free trade agreements to come with phasing-in measures, and this one should be no different.

“It is now time to bring the political drama of the last four years to an end, and to replace it with pragmatism and determination to make the new UK-EU relationship work. This will not be an easy change for many businesses that have also been struggling to deal with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Yet with greater clarity on the terms of trade, businesses can plan — and once again start looking for new opportunities.

Post-Brexit opportunities in East Midlands

“In the East Midlands, we believe the region has great potential to become the logistics hub of the UK by building on the strategic importance of East Midlands Airport, which is already the UK’s busiest pure freight airport.

“The neighbouring SEGRO East Midlands Gateway Logistics Park has become a magnet for major consumer brands and logistics heavyweights. The Chamber is firmly behind any potential bid for securing freeport status, which we believe would bring massive inward investment opportunities to the region and ensure we play a central role in Britain’s post-Brexit trading relationship with the rest of the world.”