Written by: Keith Tully
Published: 31st January 2020
UK companies have been warned not to expect trade with EU countries to remain frictionless after Brexit.
On the eve of Brexit, Michael Gove, chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and a prominent government minister, has said there will be more for businesses to concern themselves with going forward with regards to trading in and out of Europe.
He said there will be some additional “bureaucratic processes” for companies to contend with once the UK is officially operating outside the EU.
Precisely how trade will be conducted between the UK and Europe is a matter set to be thrashed out in detail by the relevant parties in Brussels and London over the course of 2020, during what’s been specifically designated as a transition phase of Brexit.
However, it’s clear that if the UK diverges from EU standards on goods, as the government has said it will, then there will be extra checks at what will soon be the borders between the UK and EU member states.
Speaking to the BBC on January 31st, Mr Gove said he can’t guarantee that trade will be frictionless post-Brexit and, in fact, suggested that companies need to prepare themselves for new realities as far as trading with the EU is concerned.
“We want trade to be as frictionless as possible but the EU is clear that you can only have fully frictionless trade if you accept all their rules, you accept all their laws, you are subordinate to their judges, you are subordinate to their political structures,” he said.
“We voted to be independent. We want to have as close as possible a relationship with the EU and the approach we want to take is based on the relationship they have with Canada.”
Manufacturing groups have been particularly keen for the government to offer as much clarity as possible about what the future trading relationship between the UK and the EU will look like in years to come.
Carolyn Fairbairn, director general of Confederation of British Industry, said that while the UK is leaving the EU, its future prosperity remains closely connected to Europe.
“Now the real work begins,” she said. “It’s time to focus on the future and build a new relationship with Europe. This can reflect our shared values and mutual interest, and support bold global trade ambitions.”