Sector News

Industry calls for certainty on trade as UK formally triggers Brexit

March 29, 2017
Energy & Chemical Value Chain

Europe’s chemical industry has called for certainty for continued trade between the European Union and United Kingdom after UK prime minister Theresa May triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, launching the country’s formal two-year exit process from the European Union.

May is seeking to discuss future trade arrangements in parallel with talks on the terms of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal, but the European Union has signaled that no discussions around trade will be possible until the exit terms are agreed on.

“Politicians on both sides must provide the earliest possible signal concerning how the EU and UK will trade in future so companies on both sides can continue their mutually beneficial trading relationship,” says Cefic (Brussels, Belgium) director general Marco Mensink. “Certainty will help chemical companies adapt and continue doing business in a rational and predictable manner. Decisions about continued investment can only be made based on long-term predictability.”

The Chemical Industries Association (CIA; London, United Kingdom) says it will scrutinize and seek to influence each and every step until and beyond Brexit. “The chemical and pharmaceutical industry will continue to work with government and our partners across the continent to get the best deal for the chemical industry—a deal that will also support many of our customer industries who are dependent on our products and services,” says CIA chief executive Steve Elliott. “In these negotiations there is much more to unite the European chemical industry than divide us, with minimal disruption to our current trading relationships being our collective goal.”

The United Kingdom accounted for about 9% of EU sales of chemicals in 2014, Cefic says. UK imports of chemicals from the rest of the European Union totaled €22.3 billion in the same year, and shipments in the other direction totaled about €20.3 billion, Cefic says.

May triggered Article 50 Wednesday in a letter to The European Council president Donald Tusk, delivered by Tim Barrow, the United Kingdom’s ambassador to the European Union. “We propose a bold and ambitious free trade agreement between the United Kingdom and European Union,” May says in the letter. “This should be of greater scope and ambition than any such agreement before it so that it covers sectors crucial to our linked economies.”

By Ian Young

Source: Chemical Week

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