Our main concern is that, working with Government and other sectors of industry, we should help facilitate the speedy development of a stable, predictable relationship with the EU, so that our sector can continue to trade openly and fairly with Europe as our most important trading partner.
The immediate reactions to the Brexit vote in financial markets will have a real impact on our members. The fall in the value of the pound will of course lead to a rise in raw material prices and fuel costs. However it should also provide the scope for our members’ products to be more competitive in both UK and export markets. It is difficult to say now how significant these factors will be. We would hope that the current volatility in the markets reduces so that investment and market decisions can be taken on a stable basis.
At this stage it is also difficult to predict when the process of forging a new relationship with the EU will start, what form it will take and what the outcome will be. We hope that the two sides will be able to reach a swift, pragmatic and productive trading agreement for the future. Depending on when Article 50 is triggered it will be at least two years before the UK leaves the EU and we would wish to ensure that in that period the interests of our sector are properly taken into account. We shall follow developments closely and advise where proposals are likely to have a particular impact on our sector. In order to maintain a substantial manufacturing base in the UK we shall wish to ensure that where multi-national companies have invested in the past they continue to do so in the future. This means creating a favourable trading environment with the EU that does not damage our ability to compete for, and attract, investment and the talents and skills of personnel that are needed to staff our industry.
In the future our members will have to abide by EU regulations when they export to the EU, without the UK having a voice in the institutions that develop legislation, whether the European Council or the European Parliament. Nevertheless it is vital to be able to try to influence those institutions where possible to avoid undue disadvantage to UK interests. We hope that the UK Government will develop mechanisms to inform UK industry of legislative proposals that will affect them and methods of lobbying to meet UK concerns. Of particular concern to us will be developments in the regime governing chemicals in manufactured products – the so-called REACH regulations
The UK Government will also have to decide whether to replace EU legislation with UK regulations or not. This could result in potential benefits for the UK industry – where we feel strongly on an issue we will be able to take a different position from the rest of Europe. We shall seek to identify where there is defective legislation affecting our members’ interests and endeavour to remedy it.
An independent UK will also have the ability to draw up more favourable trading arrangements with third parties. It will take time for such processes to take their course. BRPPA will need to identify those countries with which our sector could particularly benefit from new arrangements and lobby Government accordingly.
BRPPA is confident that an innovative and forward thinking industry such as ours can thrive in this new environment and it will be working on behalf of its members to ensure that the best possible outcome for them is obtained.