Home » UK business lobby calls for improved EU links – Jamaica Observer

UK business lobby calls for improved EU links – Jamaica Observer

Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak arrives to deliver a speech to announce the July 4 as the date of the UK’s next general election, at 10 Downing Street in central London, on May 22, 2024. UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Wednesday set a general election date for July 4, ending months of speculation about when he would go to the country. The vote — the third since the Brexit referendum in 2016 and the first in July since 1945 — comes as Sunak seeks to capitalise on better economic data to woo voters hit by cost-of-living rises. (Photo by BENJAMIN CREMEL / AFP)

LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — Britain’s business community called Thursday for whatever government emerges from the looming UK general election to improve relations with the European Union and lighten post-Brexit trade burdens.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) issued the plea in a five-point “election manifesto” before the July 4 vote, also urging the completion of key trade deals.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, whose governing Conservatives took Britain out of the European Union in 2021, are far behind the opposition Labour party in opinion polls amid a cost-of-living crisis that critics argue has been exacerbated by Brexit.

“The (next) government must negotiate improved UK trading terms with our largest trading partner, the European Union and complete the current pipeline of free trade negotiations including Switzerland, Gulf Co-operation Council, Turkey, and India,” the BCC said in a statement.

“A new focus on ensuring businesses large and small are getting the full benefits from trade deals current and new is needed from government,” added the BCC, which represents thousands of companies across Britain.

The EU bloc accounts for about 42 per cent of all British exports according to the BCC.

“The EU is the UK’s biggest market… Leaving the EU has made it more expensive and bureaucratic to sell our goods and services across the Channel,” added its director general Shevaun Haviland.

“But better trading terms are possible if the UK government and the EU reach agreement in areas of mutual benefit for business in both markets.”

The BCC is also urging Britain’s incoming administration to boost green innovation, skills investment, reform business taxation, and appoint a government champion to oversee the cutting-edge artificial intelligence sector.

“The start of a new government, regardless of party or whatever coalition takes form, is a good moment for a reset,” said Haviland.

“It’s an opportunity to look forward and action the plan the country voted on.

“We have set out five priorities for immediate action to put in place the right policies and structures that will turn the flywheel of the economy, so that business can step up and make the best of these opportunities,” she added.

Britain voted to leave the EU in a knife-edge 2016 referendum after Brexiteers, including former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, promised “sunlit uplands” of economic prosperity.

The UK economy however sank into recession in the second half of 2023, as elevated inflation sparked a cost-of living crunch.