COVENTRY, UK — The British Coatings Federation (BCF) has weighed in on recent comments regarding the UK’s exit from the European Union and the need for alignment on chemicals between the UK and the European Union.

In a recent news story in the Financial Times, the Chancellor of the Exchequer made news with comments in which he addressed the issue of future trading agreements with the European Union. He told the paper, “There will not be alignment, we will not be a rule taker, we will not be in the single market and we will not be in the customs union – and we will do this by the end of the year.”

Commenting on the story, Tom Bowtell, CEO of the BCF, said, “We were disappointed that the current government’s version of the Withdrawal Agreement removed some of the commitments to regulatory alignment for chemicals that were in the previous Theresa May deal. The Chancellor’s comments raise even more concerns for the coatings industry about the possibility of substantial regulatory divergence in the future. A recent BCF member survey saw 90% of coatings manufacturers express their fear of having a duplicate set of chemical regulations through a UK REACH, and all the extra bureaucracy and cost this would bring.”

These comments came as the UK Parliament approved the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement Bill, with the European Parliament also expected to vote to approve the agreement. The UK has formally left the European Union and now enters into a period of new, and separate, negotiations about a future free trade agreement between the UK and European Union, with a transition period on current terms running until Dec. 31, 2020.

Tom Bowtell continued, “We need government to understand the complexity of the integrated chemicals supply chain and come up with an appropriate free trade deal to prevent – or at least minimize – substantially added costs or disruption to our members. The BCF will continue to engage in forthright yet constructive dialogue with civil servants and politicians to ensure a workable solution is found for our sector.”