Brexit deal suffers heavy defeat / Plastics companies concerned about no deal / Cefic asks for solution to avoid supply chain disruptions / BPF survey
On 15 January 2019, prime minister Theresa May's Brexit deal was clearly defeated, with a 230-vote margin. The UK parliament voted 432 to 202 against her plan. May has spent the past two years working on a deal for the country's withdrawal from the EU on 29 March 2019.

She is now facing a no-confidence vote. It remains to be seen how Brexit will unfold, as any improvement in the situation will require stability in the UK government. Possible scenarios would be a postponement of the 29 March withdrawal deadline, a second referendum or a "no-deal" exit from the EU.

The latter would be a worst-case scenario for many companies in the UK plastics industry. A survey of 104 companies conducted in December 2018 by the British Plastics Federation (BPF, London / UK; www.bpf.co.uk) found that 76% of respondents rated a no-deal Brexit as having a "negative" or "very negative" impact on their organisation. Only 7% regarded no deal as having benefits, and the remainder expected no impact (5%) or was unclear about it (12%). According to the BPF, the plastics industry is the third largest manufacturing sector in the UK.
UK businesses generally pro-EU
The participants of BPF's survey were already sceptical about Brexit – deal or no deal. More than half (55%) of them admitted to voting against leaving the EU in 2016. Only 4% were Brexit advocates, while 41% held a neutral stance or did not comment. Plastics companies' biggest concerns about Brexit were customs/border delays in importing and exporting goods (88%), material supply (78%), tariffs (77%), regulations (66%) and labour (54%).

When the UK leaves the EU, 42% of companies expect business losses, 29% expect no adverse effects and 29% were not sure. Only 21% of respondents expect to find new business opportunities as a result of Brexit, while 58% saw no new opportunities and 21% were uncertain. Regarding regulation, three quarters of plastics companies would prefer to stay with EU regulations. Only 3% prefer stronger regulation and 22% prefer less regulation.

Of the respondents, 21% said they had already lost employees because of the planned Brexit. The staff leaving were mainly low-skilled workers (83%), but also technicians and engineers. One quarter of the companies also cited Brexit as a reason for recruitment problems. Against this backdrop, 47% of respondents in December 2018 were in favour of a second referendum on the final Brexit deal, with 21% against and 32% unsure.

"Brexit remains a deeply divisive issue to this day," says the president of the BPF’s Brexit Taskforce, Mike Boswell. "But this data shows our industry would clearly prefer to stick with EU regulations and indicates that the benefits of Brexit – from a plastics manufacturer’s or recycler’s perspective – are hard to see at this point in time." He is sure the UK industry will remain positive and adapt to the future. However, he says, "as an industry that employs over 166,000 people, we hope that the government looks at this data and thinks hard about how it can end ongoing uncertainty for businesses as soon as possible."
Cefic stresses that certainty on EU-UK arrangements is critical
The European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic, Brussels; www.cefic.org) has issued a statement following the outcome of the UK parliament's vote on 15 January. Marco Mensink, director general of Cefic, notes that to avoid supply chain disruptions, it is critical to have certainty on the arrangements between the EU and UK. "We continue to ask for a solution to be found, and hope that a no-deal Brexit can still be avoided."

Cefic says the EU and UK chemical industries have both been calling for an agreement from the onset of Brexit negotiations, whereby frictionless tariff-free trade in chemicals, regulatory consistency between the UK and EU-27 and access to skilled people would be maintained. The European organisation notes that it continues to work with its UK member, the Chemical Industries Association (CIA, London; www.cia.org.uk), as well as UK-based companies to inform policy makers about Cefic's position.
16.01.2019 Plasteurope.com [241533-0]
Published on 16.01.2019
Großbritannien: Kunststoffunternehmen fürchten harten BrexitGerman version of this article...

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