U.K. Groups Differ on U.S. Chamber Investment Concerns

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GBO provided a quote for International Trade Daily which is published by Washington-based Bloomberg BNA (www.bna.com).

Oct. 20 — The U.S. Chamber of Commerce should refrain from trying to influence how the British government shapes its future trade policy with the European Union following its decision to leave the bloc of 28 nations, a cross-party Eurosceptic group said Oct. 20.

“It is entirely right for the U.S. business community to share its perspective on the U.K.-EU negotiations,” Jayne Adye, campaign director of cross-party, grassroots Eurosceptic Group Get Britain Out, told Bloomberg BNA in an Oct. 20 e-mail.

“However, they should be wary of trying to threaten or blackmail the U.K. in any way,” she said of the U.S. business lobby group’s recent warnings that the U.K. could lose almost $600 billion investment from U.S. firms unless it maintains “unfettered” access to the EU’s Single Market.

The issue of whether the U.K. will press for full access to the Single Market or revert to World Trade Organization trading rules has become a central question to how the U.K. government plans to approach its trade negotiating stance next year.

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, who on Oct. 20 was taking part in her first European Council meeting, has confirmed that she will trigger the mechanism to launch the U.K.’s exit from the EU by the end of next March.

Get Britain Out, is one of several groups pushing for the U.K. to abandon all former trading arrangements with the EU to focus on bilateral trade deals with other countries including the U.S., a stance shared by the International Trade Secretary Liam Fox.


Lobby EC

Adye said the U.S. Chamber of Commerce would make better use of its time by lobbying the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, and the heads of the other 27 EU member states “to try and convince them of the mutual benefit of a mutually beneficial trade deal.”

“It is clearly the EU leadership which is trying to force the U.K. to take a hard stance on Brexit,” she said of the process to leave the EU which a narrow majority of the British population supported in a June 23 referendum.

Adye described a positive trade deal as one “which would grant the U.K. ‘access’ to the Single Market without imposing tariffs, and forcing rules on the free movement of people on us” which are conditions that the EU has reiterated are imperative for any country to follow when they are part of the Single Market.

Reiterating the views of some government ministers, Adye insisted that “full ‘membership’ of the Single Market would be completely unacceptable to the voters of this country, as this would mean we would not regain control of our laws, borders or money.”

The Department for International Trade offered no comment on the warnings issues by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.


Single Market Crucial

A group created out of supporters of the “Remain in the EU” campaign prior to the referendum called Open Britain welcomed the intervention by the chamber.

“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce quite rightly underlined how important membership of the Single Market is to investment in Britain,” James McGrory, co-executive director of Open Britain, told Bloomberg BNA in an Oct. 20 e-mail.

“Businesses across the country and across the world are urging the British Government to seek full participation in our home marketplace of 500 million consumers,” he added. “Refusal to do so will result in lower investment and prosperity for our country.”


Market Access

The U.K. Confederation of British Industry also agreed with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s analysis that retaining access to the Single Market was crucial for U.K.-based businesses, a CBI spokeswoman told Bloomberg BNA in an Oct. 20 e-mail.

She cited the open letter that the confederation and other business groups recently sent to the government, urging it to “deliver barrier free access to the EU’s Single Market, which is vital to the health of the U.K. economy, especially to our manufacturing and service sectors.”

The CBI also said in its open letter that “uninterrupted access for our financial services sector is also a major priority.” Without access to the EU market, the U.K.-based financial services could lose their passporting rights which could force some global firms to relocate.

By Ali Qassim

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