EU, British associations call for elimination of customs post-Brexit

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As the United Kingdom and European Union prepare for the second phase of negotiations over the departure of the U.K. from the EU, two major associations have urged politicians to develop a “deep and comprehensive” agreement that “eliminates customs and minimises possible non-tariff barriers.”

In a joint statement on Dec. 18, the European Plastics Converters Association (EuPC) and the British Plastics Federation (BPF) asked the European Commission and the British government “to avoid any disturbances of the current trade with plastics and plastic products between the UK and the EU.”

Signed by Alexandre Dangis, EuPC managing director, and Philip Law, BPF director-general, the statement described the U.K. as “the most important trade partner of the EU27 for manufactured plastic articles.”

In 2016, the EU27 exported goods with a trade value above 6.6 billion euros to the U.K., according to the statement.

“The same applies the other way around, in 2016, the intra-EU exports of the U.K. amounted to over 4.5 billion euros, which is 68 percent of the U.K.’s total plastic products exports,” the two officials added.

There is also considerable ownership of U.K. plastics businesses by EU companies from other member states and vice versa.

Touching on restrictions to the free movement of labor, the statement said such measures could worsen “the already existing shortage of qualified personnel that the European plastics converting industry is facing.”

Another issue highlighted by the two organizations is legal differences in the highly regulated plastics industry, which could become major barriers to international trade and investments.

Additionally, the statement pointed out, the EUs flagship program to create a circular economy “can only be addressed in conjunction with the U.K. as a partner with the EU.”

To address those concerns, the joint statement called for duty-free trade between the EU27 and the U.K.; mutual recognition of regulatory procedures and standards, especially REACH regulation and the establishment of customs procedures that are “as efficient, simple and fast as possible.”