The interests of the catering equipment sector will now be heard at the higher echelons of government after a manufacturing group that the Foodservice Equipment Association is a member of were invited to join a key Brexit taskforce.
EURIS (European Union Relationship and Industrial Strategy), which represents manufacturing industry organisations such as the FEA, was invited by cabinet office minister Michael Gove to the first meeting of the joint Business/HMG Taskforce to discuss business readiness for the end of the Brexit transition period.
The new taskforce aims to achieve four objectives, including intensifying dialogue between government and business on the end of the transition period, working through practical issues such as guidance or helplines to enable business readiness, and identifying potential policy interventions that might help sectors with low readiness. It will also discuss post-January messaging and priorities, including helping businesses to exploit new opportunities.
EURIS used the session to put forward what it considers the key business needs for the end of transition.
These included maintaining supply and supply chains – to keep products supplied to UK infrastructure, buildings and consumers, assurance is needed that goods will be able to move across the UK/EU and GB/NI borders without significant delays. EURIS requested maximum clarity over customs requirements and sympathetic handling for businesses seeking to comply.
EURIS also encouraged comprehensive regulation and guidance on product marking, with lengthy introductory periods followed by robust market surveillance.
On regulatory cooperation it recommended a standing UK or UK/EU regulatory committee with industry representation to monitor new regulatory proposals to avoid unnecessary technical barriers to trade.
For keeping businesses running with a steady supply of skilled labour, the trade body asked for sympathetic treatment for the needs of industry in tackling the skills shortage and accessing overseas labour.
And on maintaining trade between Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, EURIS requested clear guidance for additional requirements for GB/NI trade and a cooperation structure with the EU (with industry involvement) to minimise friction for both GB/NI and UK/EU trade.
EURIS has also maintained intensive dialogue with government and its member companies to provide the vital information link for business readiness for end of transition. It now wants government encouragement for UK businesses to join their relevant trade association to easily access key official messages and tailored guidance for their business sector.
Finally, for free trade agreements, the industry body urged that a derogation period should be agreed during which origin declarations will not be required and a comprehensive government education and facilitation process should allow for the simplest possible process.