Tue 17th Jan 2017
NI Chamber comments on Prime Minister’s Brexit speech
Commenting on the Prime Minister’s speech on Brexit, in which she said the UK will negotiate a new customs union deal with the EU but will leave the single market, NI Chamber Chief Executive Ann McGregor, said:
“Businesses have been dealing with a lot of uncertainty in the past 6 months and they will therefore welcome some guidance on the type of Brexit the UK is seeking.
“However the Prime Minister has said her plans for Brexit cannot allow the UK to remain in the European single market but that she will work to get an ambitious free trade agreement with the EU. Negotiating agreements can take years and it would therefore be good to hear what is planned in the interim to allow for the freest possible trade in goods and services between the UK and EU.
“The Single Market has had a positive impact on how our members do business nationally and internationally so outside of it their ability to trade successfully must be maintained in any new deal.
“We welcome her commitment to maintaining the common travel area with the Republic and making it a priority to deliver a practical solution as quickly as possible to the question of the land border with the Irish State.
“The Prime Minister says she also wants a customs agreement with the EU which could mean partial membership of the customs union. However, NI Chamber believes that this must come without costly customs checks and administrative costs for businesses which would pose a threat to Irish cross-border trade.
“A negotiated UK-EU Free Trade Agreement will not go far enough in meeting the concerns of our members, particularly around free movement of people.
“It is important that Northern Ireland can continue, as far as possible, to trade with ease with EU member states.”
Ms McGregor concluded:
“Many of our members are ignoring the Brexit ‘noise’ completely, and say there needs to be a far bigger focus on getting the basics right here at home. Their message is that Brexit must not become all-consuming, and that having the right skills, tax regime, infrastructure and a stable political environment will play a far bigger part in our future success than any eventual Brexit deal.”