The United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union will not lead to any major watering down of the European health and safety and environmental regulations that currently apply in the country, according to the Chemical Industries Association (CIA).
“If we want access to markets, there will have to be accepted harmonization on a lot of regulations,” Tom Crotty, president of the association and director of chemicals giant Ineos, said at a CIA press gathering in London.
While the association had yet to formally discuss the Brexit vote this point, Crotty said: “I would be very surprised if the U.K. chemical industry saw this as a great opportunity to row back on all those regulations we don't like and say ‘let's start again and tear up everything: no Reach, no Emissions Trading Scheme.'
“This is not going to happen as far as we are concerned.”
Crotty's views were echoed by CIA CEO Steve Elliot, who noted that “we would have a devil of a job with companies that have already gone down the Reach registration path.”
Elliot went on to say that, based on recent soundings from incoming U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, the chemical industry would now have a few months to determine exactly what it needs from Brexit negotiations.
The chemical association has already set out its priorities for such talks as being around: market access; availability of skilled labor; and access and security of affordable energy.
According to the latest CIA data, Europe remained the biggest export region for the U.K. chemicals and pharma industry, with this trade on a growth track — at least pre-Brexit.
The value of the U.K. chemicals and pharma exports to the EU grew 6 percent in the first five months of the year to around 11 billion pounds ($14.4 billion), CIA figures suggested, compared with the same period last year.
Imports were around 14.5 billion pounds ($19 billion), the CIA said.