The NFU has joined the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and 70 other trade associations and professional bodies to call for a pragmatic approach to secure a UK-EU agreement, as negotiations reach a critical phase.
The organisations, jointly representing 190,000 businesses and 7 million employees, are calling for politicians to carve a path towards a deal, placing emphasis on the importance of a deal for jobs and livelihoods and assisting the UK's economic recovery from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
NFU director general Terry Jones co-signed the letter, saying:
“The EU, as a single trading bloc, is the most important international market for UK agri-food products, and given its size and proximity will continue to be so in the future. That is why it’s critically important that a tariff free, quota free deal is struck as soon as possible. Securing a tariff free deal will help the nation’s farmers maintain vital trade links and ensure that they can continue supplying British consumers with high quality, affordable food produced to trusted high standards, with European consumers continuing to benefit too.”
The joint letter reads:
“Now is the time for historic political leadership. With compromise and tenacity, a deal can be done. Businesses call on leaders on both sides to find a route through.
“The clarity that comes with an ambitious deal will have an instant impact on firms’ efforts to prepare. It will help investment by removing the threat of tariffs and quotas. And it will catalyse confidence through enhanced customs cooperation while making a precious data agreement possible, vital for services industries which make up 80% of the UK economy.
“Businesses are doing what they can to prepare for Brexit. But firms face a hat-trick of unprecedented challenges: rebuilding from the first wave of COVID-19, dealing with the second and uncertainty over the UK’s trading relationship with the EU.
“That’s why more than three quarters of UK firms say they need a deal, quickly.
“With each day that passes, business resilience is chipped away. A swift deal is the single most effective way to support recovery in communities across Europe.
“After four years of debate, there must be a resolution. 2021 can then be a year to rebuild, rather than regret.”
The joint statement follows an intervention earlier this week by leading European business groups from France, Germany and Italy, calling for ‘a solution which ensures smooth trading conditions’.
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