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Next government needs to improve trading ties with EU, says British Chambers of Commerce


The next government needs to deliver a better trading relationship with the EU as a matter of priority. 

That’s the view of the British Chambers of Commerce, one of the most influential business networks, set out as part of its Future of the Economy Manifesto for 2024

The manifesto focuses on five key areas of the UK economy, from green innovation and digital, to people, work, and global Britain. 

The manifesto notes that: “There is a clear need to improve trading relationships with the EU, which remains our biggest trading partner.

“Retaining Britain’s place on the global stage also means keeping our most successful businesses who may be looking overseas for finance. British growth capital should be made more accessible.

“Finally, the government should only diverge from EU rules where it adds value to UK plc. We encourage close alignment on regulations that impact Britain’s global trade, such as standards on manufactured goods, while supporting divergence where there is a clear benefit, such as the Mansion House reforms that will help unlock additional investment for UK firms.”

The manifesto put forward three key recommendations for growing global trade;

  1. Implement trade deals which improve export potential for business
  2. Grow foreign direct investment into the UK
  3. Continue reforms to increase UK investment

A Swiss solution?

William Bain, BCC Head of Trade Policy, said that the UK should be looking towards a Swiss-style deal with the EU after a recent trip to the country. 

He said that: “Switzerland is one of the UK’s strongest trading partners with a depth to its finance and services trade that mirrors our own. It is also at the heart of Europe’s life sciences and pharmaceutical industries.  

“As a member of the European Free Trade Area, while sitting outside the European Economic Area, it can set its own course on many regulatory issues. 

“But it retains close links with the EU Single Market, particularly in goods. These have been developed through bilateral agreements with Brussels over the past half a century, though Switzerland is also a full participant in the Schengen Zone, allowing friction-free movement through Swiss territory for qualifying citizens.”

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