British Glass, the representative body for the £1.3bn UK glass manufacturing industry and its supply chain, today warned that the sector could be so damaged by rushed Government proposals for zero tariffs if there is a no-deal Brexit that it might never recover.
British Glass and the Manufacturing Trade Remedies Alliance (MTRA) are fighting a proposal from International Trade Minister Liam Fox to introduce ‘most favoured nation zero tariffs’ on all goods imported into the UK, and called for Parliamentary scrutiny before the measure goes ahead.
Dave Dalton, Chief Executive of British Glass, said:
“From a manufacturing position this is a dangerous intervention, which is likely to see the UK flooded with consumer goods priced at a market advantage against domestically manufactured goods here in the UK.
“As a proposed unilateral move this will also affect our ability to export, as our goods will still attract the same tariffs they currently experience in overseas markets. Such an intervention can only lead to a clear risk to jobs, business and the economy.”
UK high volume glass manufacturing employs over 6,500 directly and another 115,000 in the supply chain.
British Glass and other members of the MTRA have approached their MPs to fight Dr Fox’s move, and say that the legislation should be open to the full and detailed scrutiny of Parliament so that Government will reconsider and take a more long-term approach to the welfare of the UK economy and manufacturing. It is understood a Statutory Instrument will be introduced early next week (possibly Monday or Tuesday).
Mr Dalton added: “The aim of the Alliance has been to work with Government to develop a UK Trade Remedies regime aimed at protecting UK industry once we have left the EU. It is important to ensure UK manufacturing continues to enjoy the level of safeguards it currently has as part of the EU, and ensures a level playing field for imported goods.
“It is clear from current economic activity and decisions being taken by internationally owned companies that the level of investment in UK industry is stalling as a result of uncertainty surrounding Brexit. Businesses are nervous about making investment decisions to ensure that the UK continues as a high technology, highly skilled manufacturing base, properly equipped and able to compete in the global market place.”