Government must understand need for alignment on chemicals with the EU, says UK coatings industry

27 January 2020

The Chancellor of the Exchequer made the news recently with comments he made during an interview with the Financial Times, in which he addressed the issue of future trading agreements with the EU. He told the paper:

"There will not be alignment, we will not be a rule taker, we will not be in the single market and we will not be in the customs union – and we will do this by the end of the year.”

Commenting on these developments, Tom Bowtell, CEO of the British Coatings Federation, said: "We were disappointed that the current government’s version of the Withdrawal Agreement removed some of the commitments to regulatory alignment for chemicals that were in the previous Theresa May deal.

"The Chancellor’s comments raise even more concerns for the coatings industry about the possibility of substantial regulatory divergence in the future.

"A recent BCF member survey saw 90% of coatings manufacturers express their fear of having a duplicate set of chemical regulations through a UK REACH, and all the extra bureaucracy and cost this would bring.”

These comments came as the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement Bill was finally approved by the UK Parliament, with the European Parliament also expected to vote to approve the agreement week commencing January 27.

The UK will, therefore, formally leave the EU on 31st January and enter into a period of new and separate negotiations about a future free trade agreement between the UK and EU, with a transition period on current terms running until 31st December 2020.

Tom Bowtell continued: "We need government to understand the complexity of the integrated chemicals supply chain and come up with an appropriate free trade deal to prevent – or at least minimise – substantially added costs or disruption to our members.

"The BCF will continue to engage in forthright yet constructive dialogue with civil servants and politicians to ensure a workable solution is found for our sector.”

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