UK and German business groups urge Brexit talks to focus on economy
The British Chambers of Commerce and their German counterparts have made a joint appeal to the UK and EU Brexit negotiators to clear up some of the “great uncertainty” affecting businesses.
The British and EU teams reconvene today for the third round of talks about the UK’s departure from the bloc.
The BCC and Association of German Chambers of Commerce (DIHK) called for a focus on “business-critical” issues like the rules governing free movement of workers and customs arrangements.
Adam Marshall, the director general of the BCC, said: “As Brexit talks continue, it’s clear that companies in the UK and on the Continent all want economic issues to rise to the top of the negotiations agenda. There is real business appetite from both sides for a focus on practical, day-to-day business concerns, and a desire for clarity on future trading arrangements.
“The UK and the EU must begin work on transitional arrangements, particularly on customs, so that firms on both sides of the Channel have the confidence to make investment decisions.
“Chambers of Commerce in the UK and in Germany want to see thriving trade continue between our firms, both now and into the future. Politicians must do everything in their power to help this happen.”
Martin Wansleban, the DHIK chief executive, said Brexit was already having a negative effect on German exports to the UK.
He said: “Businesses are very concerned that Brexit will have a major negative impact. Not only it could lead to more trade barriers – additional bureaucracy, increased waiting time and stricter border controls resulting in higher costs. The terms of exit are still completely unclear. Many of our members are reporting that they are already shifting investments away from the UK in anticipation of these barriers.
“The first effects of the Brexit vote are already being observed: German exports to the United Kingdom were down by 3% in the first half of this year compared to the first half of last year, whilst exports to the EU increased with 6% in the same period.
“A transitional period would be helpful for business, but it is important to businesses on both sides that the contours of a future trading relationship are becoming clearer over the next months.”
The EU has insisted that discussions about a future trade deal can only take place once progress has been made on the subjects of the Irish border, citizens’ rights, and the so-called “divorce bill”.
UK Brexit Secretary David Davis, who will meet his EU counterpart Michel Barnier today to formally open the session, called yesterday for “imagination” on both sides to let the negotiations progress.