Brexit – UK: employers want to maintain customs union with EU after the Brexit
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    Brexit – UK: employers want to maintain customs union with EU after the Brexit

    British industry pleads for the preservation of a customs union with the EU after the Brexit. That would be the best option for the British businesses, it says. But the Foreign Minister immediately brushed it aside.

    Carolyn Fairbairn, Director-general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), suggests a “global customs union between the UK and the EU” in Monday’s speech that was unveiled Sunday on the Confederation website.

    She considers it to be a “concrete answer” to some of the complex issues raised by the UK exit from the EU, scheduled in March 2019, among which stands the Irish border issue.

    “A day could come when the possibility to fully establish independent trade policies is more profitable than a customs union with the EU, a day when investing into fast-growing economies is of more interest than frictionless trade relations in Europe,” she says.

    “But that day has not come yet,” according to Carolyn Fairbairn. “Remaining a member of a customs union as long as we find it helpful is in keeping with the referendum results, and would be good for European businesses.”

    For Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, that request “makes no sense.”

    “Remaining in the Customs Union means remaining in the EU: the EU is a customs union. That means that there will be no new free-trade deals, no new possibilities of exporting and no leading role in the WTO,” he tweeted.

    He says he is “confident that British businesses can benefit from new opportunities” brought, according to him, by the Brexit.

    After an intermediate agreement on the Brexit was reached in December 2017, the UK and EU must discuss this year the possibility of a transition period, as well as their relationship in such areas as trade and security. Theresa May wants to obtain “the best possible trade conditions” with the EU for after the Brexit, while being free to conclude “ambitious” deals with other countries.

    “Time is flying,” Carolyn Fairbairn worries, who calls for “making decisions quickly,” if one does not want to see ‘‘more jobs and investments” leaving the country. She would like a transitional agreement to be concluded with the EU before the end of March and that the framework of the future trade relationship between the UK and the EU be fixed by October.

    Maria Novak
    The Brussels Times