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Industry gives cautious welcome to Brexit deal

October 18, 2019
Energy & Chemical Value Chain

The chemical industry in the EU and UK has given a cautious welcome to the Brexit agreement reached by EU and UK negotiators in Brussels, Belgium, on Thursday. The deal covers the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, due to happen on 31 October, and a political declaration on their future relationship. However, the industry notes that the deal remains subject to approval from the UK parliament—by no means certain—and the European Parliament. The Conservative party of UK prime minister Boris Johnson does not have a majority in parliament and he will need votes from other parties, particularly Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), to approve the deal. The DUP said on Thursday that it would not support the agreement because of its customs implications for Northern Ireland.

The proposed deal is “not perfect for everyone including ourselves,” but the industry is relieved a deal has emerged after a long period of uncertainty, lasting until recently, says Steve Elliott, chief executive of the Chemical Industries Association (CIA; London, UK). “Given where we were last week, I welcome the accord now reached,” Elliott says. “We will continue our work with the UK government, political parties, and all stakeholders to ensure the detail of the agreement and any future relationship supports the growth of our sector. We will also continue to work closely with the wider European industry so that we maintain the existing close relationship within our sector, our customers, and our suppliers throughout Europe and beyond.”

The deal includes a commitment to a free-trade agreement avoiding tariffs and non-tariff barriers, which “represents an opportunity that we must now grab hold of, although we still seek reassurance that we can maintain a strong connection to the regulatory framework of [the EU],” Elliott says.

The Brexit deal includes an explicit reference to exploring “the possibility of cooperation of UK authorities with EU agencies such as the European Chemicals Agency.” Cefic (Brussels) director general Marco Mensink has welcomed the reference as “something we have been advocating for a long time as Cefic and CIA. We are looking forward to an orderly Brexit process that provides for a transition period followed by an ambitious trade agreement,” Mensink says.

By Ian Young

Source: Chemical Week

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