Commenting on proposals for a Canada style deal which have been floated this week, Stephen Phipson, Chief Executive Officer of EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, said:
“Over the course of this week there has been significant comment about the benefits of a Canada style deal. Leaving the EU on such terms would involve investment in technological solutions and infrastructure that would take years to roll out and cost billions of pounds with willing partners on both sides of the Channel. As a result, it would put thousands of manufacturing jobs and hundreds of billions of pounds of exports at risk and, at worst, could destroy much of Britain’s manufacturing base. Having been to Canada I know a customs model built around this is naïve and unrealistic as a short term solution and my view is even stronger today given how close the UK is to Brexit.”
“The issue is how to convert from the system we have now to a radically different alternative given the complex supply chains stretching across Europe. Put simply, the idea that it provides a meaningful solution to the challenge of leaving the most integrated customs union in the world in less than 200 days’ time is pure fantasy.”
“This plan has already been considered once by the Cabinet and rejected on the basis it is fundamentally flawed and risks making Brexit a total failure. I can’t see anything here that changes that assessment.”
Stephen Phipson added:
“The Canadian model does have positive points but it cost billions of dollars to implement and partners with shared goals. As well as Government investment, companies must also spend huge amounts of money on equipment, technology, training and infrastructure. Even after ten years there are still queues, checks, bureaucracy and delays. The challenge and cost of this system are very high, and often out of reach for medium and smaller companies. It bears absolutely no comparison with the frictionless trade environment we have here.”
“Further, the system was introduced by two governments working together to cover a lengthy land border with multiple points of entry and wanting greater integration. Our context is totally different as it seeks to reverse more than forty years of integration with the potential of total chaos for many years. In that environment, many companies would simply cease to exist whilst others would vote with their feet and move jobs and factories to Europe.
“Instead of looking at increasingly incredible solutions we must focus on practical and efficient solutions based on the reality of the highly successful and proven trading environment we already have and upon which so many jobs and families depend.”