Tariff-free trading between UK and EU must be at heart of Brexit plans, says BRC

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Responding to the Prime Minister’s statement on the triggering of Article 50 today, Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC said:

“Ensuring that consumers continue to enjoy great quality, choice and value on goods depends on a continuation of tariff-free trade on all products traded between the UK and the EU. Whether through reaching a new trading relationship quickly or securing a phased implementation deal, this must be at the heart of plans for a smooth and orderly Brexit.”

On trade agreements:

“It’s encouraging that the Government recognises that the UK has a role to play as a champion of free and open trade. Our priority is to make sure the terms of our trade relationship with the EU are right before seeking new deals with other countries.  Securing a positive new customs arrangement which enables mutually beneficial opportunities for trade with the EU and the rest of the world, will be crucial to ensuring British shoppers aren’t hit with the costs of unwanted import tariffs at a time when the pound is already weakened. Therefore, ensuring a phased implentation that will maintain a free and open trading environment until a new trade deal can be put in place is essential.”

On the rights of EU colleagues:

“The UK retail industry employs approximately 120,000 EU nationals who make a huge contribution in every type of role from the boardroom to distribution centres and customer service. Workers from the European Union are part of the reason that British retailers are often able to deliver affordable and high-quality goods. UK’s post-Brexit labour and immigration policy, should therefore be framed to enable domestic firms, including retailers themselves, to access the skills they need. Not only would this help our exporters, but it will help retailers keep prices low for British consumers.”

On the transfer of EU law:

“To maintain consistency and keep trading relationships as frictionless as possible, substantive reform to EU-originating legislation must wait until we have officially left the EU. However, in the meantime government should draw up an inventory of those existing EU regulatory powers which will be repatriated to the UK and to the devolved governments, and each in turn should outline the likely policy approach which will be taken with the soon-to-be repatriated powers.”