Concerned about possible barriers to trade, the British Coatings Federation (BCF) and CEPE, the European association representing paints and inks, have pledged to continue their close working relationship beyond Brexit and have set out the terms they would like to see come out of negotiations.
The UK and EU industries’ supply chains are heavily interconnected and the organisations believe, because of this close working relationship, the industry has grown exponentially over the years, as well as seen the development of innovative technologies as a result of close collaboration between the EU 28.
The UK’s intended departure from the EU has created uncertainty on both sides of the Channel. Europe is a key market for the UK paints, coatings and printing inks industry, which comprises over 60% of UK exports, whilst 80% of paint and ink imports to the UK are from the EU. Half of BCF members are British, with the rest predominantly owned by European, American and Japanese parent companies; the vast majority having UK manufacturing facilities.
Both the BCF and CEPE said they welcomed UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s announcement that the UK has the ambition to stay within the European Chemicals Agency. The organisations assert that, if the UK chemical regulations were to deviate from those on the continent, it “would result in severe disruption for the industry”.
The two associations laid out the decisions they are keen to see come from the Brexit negotiations, saying they would like the following:
- A customs union or agreement between the UK and the EU to ensure frictionless trade, avoiding potential delays and disruption to the industry.
- A harmonised chemical regulatory framework between the UK and the EU, including REACH, BPR and CLP
- No deviation from the high level of environmental and safety standards of products in the UK, which currently exist in the EU
- 0% tariffs on finished goods (paints, coatings and inks) and raw materials for our industries which are traded between the UK and the EU
- The free movement of skilled workers between the EU 27 and the UK
A statement agreed by the boards of both organisations in meetings last month read: “The implementation of tariff and non-tariff barriers on paint, coatings and printing ink products will reduce trade on both the continent and in the UK. Furthermore, innovation, competitiveness and economic growth will also suffer. Unless a mutually favourable deal is agreed, the industries in both the UK and other EU 27 countries will suffer.
“The BCF and CEPE will continue to work together on critical issues for the industry amidst this time of great change. Given the interconnectivity of supply chains in the UK and the EU, both the BCF and CEPE will be working together to influence governments and political bodies to ensure the best outcome across Europe.”
It concluded: “Whilst UK has a trade surplus with many countries in the EU, overall imports and exports for paints, coatings and printing inks are at a similar level- so both sides will lose if there are barriers to trade.”