The UK’s new relationship with the EU should be tariff-free, with minimal non-tariff barriers in place, suggested CBI’s latest report – Making A Success of Brexit.
Losing access to the Single Market could see an average 22% tariff on food and drink products, claimed CBI.
The organisation also called for a migration system that allowed businesses to access the skills and labour they needed to deliver growth.
“The EU is the most important single trading partner for every major sector of the UK economy,” said the report.
‘Most important single trading partner’
Food and drink firms consulted by CBI wanted mutual recognition of regulations to make trade with the EU after Brexit to be much clearer.
The agricultural community wanted the government to provide further assurances on the future of regulation, funding for the rural economy, and international trade.
Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI director-general, said: “Firms of all sizes will want to understand how easy it will be for them to trade in the future with the EU which remains the biggest market for British businesses.
“They need to know what rules they will be working by and how they can still secure access to skilled workers and labour, where shortages already exist.”
Other key points covered in the report included a renewed focus on global economic relationships and continued access to the social and economic benefits of EU funding.
‘Highly complex process’
“Leaving the EU will be a highly complex process, and all sectors of the economy are making their priorities clear in order to get it right,” added Fairbairn.
“The government will need to take a ‘whole economy’ approach to avoid leaving sectors behind.”
CBI’s report joined a coalition of 75 food and drink organisations urging the government to ensure continued access to the EU’s Single market.
The food and farming industry needed access to a “competent and reliable” workforce and tariff-free access to the Single Market for it to flourish, claimed the National Farmers Union.
However, food and drink manufacturers should prepare to lose free access to the EU’s 500M consumers, because of the government’s insistence on controlling immigration, Walkers Shortbread md James Walker claimed.
To read CBI’s full report, click here.