It's the economy, stupid: Brit and German business groups signal Brexit priorities as new negotiations begin

Lynsey Barber
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The BCC and DIHK business groups want the economy to be a priority (Source: Getty)

One of the groups representing thousands of British businesses has joined forces with its German counterpart to call on politicians to put economic interests ahead in Brexit negotiations.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and the Association of German Chambers of Commerce (DIHK) have urged negotiators to tackle the fundamental and "business-critical" areas such as the rights of workers, customs arrangements and tax procedures.

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“As Brexit talks continue, it’s clear that companies in the UK and on the Continent all want economic issues to rise to the top of the negotiations agenda," said BCC direcotr general Adam Marshall.

"There is real business appetite from both sides for a focus on practical, day-to-day business concerns, and a desire for clarity on future trading arrangements. The UK and the EU must begin work on transitional arrangements, particularly on customs, so that firms on both sides of the Channel have the confidence to make investment decisions."

Marshall added: “Chambers of Commerce in the UK and in Germany want to see thriving trade continue between our firms, both now and into the future. Politicians must do everything in their power to help this happen."

A survey by DIHK found the outlook for businesses trading with the UK is worsening. The UK is the third largest market for German export goods and around German firms employ more than 400,000 workers in the UK.

“Businesses are very concerned that Brexit will have a major negative impact," said DIHK chief Dr Martin Wansleben.

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"Not only it could lead to more trade barriers – additional bureaucracy, increased waiting time and stricter border controls resulting in higher costs. The terms of exit are still completely unclear. Many of our members are reporting that they are already shifting investments away from the UK in anticipation of these barriers."

The warning comes as Europe and the UK prepare for a third round of Brexit talks.

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