“It is essential the next Government negotiates a mutually-beneficial new trade deal with the European Union before the United Kingdom leaves” Barry Gardiner told the Builders Merchants’ Federation.
The Shadow International Trade Secretary was answering a question from the BMF’s policy and public affairs officer, Brett Amphlett, who represented the BMF at a major Labour Party in central London. Gardiner gave a keynote speech to set out his Party’s approach to trade negotiations if Labour wins next week’s General Election.
“Labour’s absolute priority is to secure tariff-free access to international markets, and ensure there are no new customs and non-tariff trade barriers to hinder British business”, he said.
The BMF wants politicians of all parties to understand that leaving the Customs Union without a comprehensive UK-EU free trade agreement will unsettle business confidence and planned investments – with negative consequences for the merchants and manufacturers it represents. The worry is that proper consideration is not being given to non-tariff obstacles to international trade.
Gardiner was asked if the HMRC and port authorities have sufficient resources to deal with millions more customs’ declarations that will be necessary when the UK leaves the EU Customs’ Union. The BMF argues that if inspections at ports are not properly resourced, consignments will be stuck on quaysides causing unnecessary backlogs, rising costs and delayed deliveries.
He said that ‘no deal’ would be the worst possible deal for Britain and it was “illiterate” to say it ahead of the forthcoming negotiations. “Labour rejects the idea that we can walk away without a deal” he added, cautioning against relying on World Trade Organisation rules and in the absence of a deal, said there will have to be transitional arrangements.