No tariffs and single market access is vital after Brexit, say North West manufacturers

Study, published by EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, reports that 83% of North West manufacturers want no-tariffs post-Brexit and 81% want single market access. Tony McDonough reports

Around 75% of manufacturers in the North West are unprepared for Brexit, says the EEF


Three quarters of North West manufacturers are unprepared for a no-deal Brexit, a new survey reveals.

And the study, published by EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, also reports that 83% said it is vital any deal would ensure there are no tariffs on EU goods and 81% want to retain full access to the single market.

However, the prospect of a no-deal Brexit has increased over the last few days following Prime Minister Theresa May’s failed bid to convince EU leaders of the viability of her Chequers plan. It also faces strong opposition in the UK from both leavers and remainers.

Almost half of manufacturers surveyed say they are not prepared and will not be preparing for what would happen if the Government fails to strike an agreement.

The EEF-commissioned ComRes survey of 500 manufacturing business decision makers nationally, including 61 in the North West, finds that one is six manufacturers business decision-makers say business would become untenable for them if the UK reverted to WTO tariffs, increased border checks on people and increased checks on goods at the border.

A quarter say that as a result of Brexit they have experienced, or are expecting to experience, losing out on investment (23%), losing skilled EU workers (24%) and losing a new contract (27%).

And 30% of businesses say that they are finding or expect to find it more difficult to recruit workers with the necessary skills.

Respondents were uncertain about where future opportunities lie, with 24% not clear what their biggest post-Brexit opportunity will be, but there was a definite appetite to take advantage of new trade possibilities.

The survey showed that businesses see the US as the top priority for a new trade deal after Brexit (52%) while two in five businesses (41%) are already exploring, or expect to explore, new markets outside the EU.

Stephen Phipson, chief executive at EEF, said:This research reinforces the need for manufacturers across the North West and nationally to get a deal to ensure they deliver for the UK economy.

“They also desperately require clarity to be able to prepare. It is absolutely crucial that an industry that accounts for 10% of the UK’s economic output and almost half of the country’s exports, prepares for exit day and all its possible implications.

“But currently over 80% have no plans to prepare for a scenario such as no-deal.

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