UK automation firms see no benefits from moving to WTO rules
A survey of 83 member companies of the UK automation trade body Gambica and the electrical trade body Beama, has revealed that they have an almost entirely negative view of the prospects of adopting WTO (World Trade Organisation) rules for future trading between the UK and the European Union.
The companies surveyed – representing businesses of all sizes – believe that moving to WTO rules would raise tariffs, add administrative burdens and delay deliveries.
When asked if they could see any benefits from reduced EU regulations, 75% said no, with just 14% identifying potential advantages, such as reduced red tape and making it easier to employ non-EU labour. Most felt that they would still need to adhere to EU regulations, particularly for products and systems.
According to those surveyed, the most negative aspects of adopting WTO rules would be cross-frontier administration (such as Value-Added Tax) and higher import and export tariffs.
A Gambica/Beama report on the survey says that the impact of WTO rules would be to reduce the competitiveness of UK businesses in the EU market. As well as extra costs, any customs delays would add to the risk of losing customers, particularly for urgent spares and products with short shelf lives.
Almost a third of those surveyed (32%) report significant differences between their current export processes to the EU and non-EU countries. They say that export outside the EU is more complex with additional costs, administration burdens, delays and tariffs.
More than two-thirds if the companies surveyed (68%) both import and export, with 23% importing only, and 9% exporting only. Imports from the EU represent 26% of their turnover, while the rest of the world accounts for 6% of turnover. Exports are split 50/50 between the EU and the rest of the world – each accounting for 8% of turnover.
The results of the survey will be used by a new Euris (EU relationship & Industrial Strategy) task force that Bema and Gambica have established to define their members’ positions and to have a dialogue with Government.
The survey was also part of a wider study being carried out by Eama (the Engineering and Machinery Alliance), of which Gambica is a member.