UK Industry Groups Respond To Triggering Of Article 50
Retail and agri-food industry groups have given a mixed response to the news that the UK has formally commenced the exit process from the European Union, with the triggering of Article 50.
The British Retail Consortium said that it is 'encouraging that the Government recognises that the UK has a role to play as a champion of free and open trade', however, Helen Dickinson, the group's chief executive, said that it was essential that tariff-free trade between Britain and the EU remained in place.
"Our priority is to make sure the terms of our trade relationship with the EU are right before seeking new deals with other countries," Dickinson said. "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."
Dickinson added that it was important that the UK's post-Brexit labour and immigration policy should take into account the status of EU nationals working in the retail trade, and "should therefore be framed to enable domestic firms, including retailers themselves, to access the skills they need".
The Wine and Spirit Trade Association, which represents more than 300 businesses in the alcohol trade, said that it will "stand together" with European colleagues to make sure that free-flows of trade are maintained, and that the "special relationship" between the UK industry and the Continent is maintained.
"The WSTA will be working tirelessly to achieve our key aims: continued, tariff-free movement of wines and spirits to and from the EU, new, tariff-free trade agreements with priority countries outside the EU, and equally safe passage of goods without extra checks at borders once we have left the Customs Union," said the group's chief executive, Miles Beale.
Vital To Britain
Elsewhere, the National Farmers' Union has stated that the farming industry must be "front and centre" of Brexit negotiations, given the industry's "vital" status to Britain.
“We have to take this opportunity to tell the country – and the world – of our high standards, of the pride we have in the food we produce, and the importance of our industry," said NFU President Meurig Raymond.
"Farming and food production play a crucial role in the life and economy of our country, and therefore it is important this government ensures food and farming [are] at the forefront of their priorities as they negotiate our exit from the EU."
© 2017 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Stephen Wynne-Jones. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.