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BRC blasts government's Brexit retail report

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has hit out at a government analysis of the retail sector for failing to assess the potential impact of Brexit.

Brexit secretary David Davis had promised to deliver a series of “impact assessments” covering a range of sectors, from retail to aviation, tourism and defence.

However, the Department for Exiting the European Union has instead published a number of reports giving an overview of each sector and how they fit into the current EU-wide regulatory framework. 

The 15-page Retail Sector Report gives a brief introduction to retail and its effect on other sectors, the economy and employment in the UK. It goes on to examine current regulations, and how trade is facilitated between the UK and other EU countries.

But there is no detailed analysis of the potential impact different Brexit outcomes could have on retail. A section on “sector views” and an annex on stakeholder engagement in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy have been redacted.

In response, the BRC has lashed out at the government for failing to provide a clear enough picture of what would happen to the sector in the event of a hard Brexit.

William Bain, the trade body’s European and international policy adviser, said: “The government’s sectoral analysis on retail offers an account of the importance the retail industry has for the UK economy on jobs, growth and investment, and in supplying goods and services for consumers.

“It does not, however, provide any data or analysis at all on the future if the basis of the UK’s trading and commercial relationship with the EU changes.”

The BRC has previously argued that a hard Brexit would have major implications for consumers when it comes to prices, choice and availability of goods.

”Losing reciprocal tariff-free trade with the EU could raise prices for food and other imported consumer goods,” said Bain. “Without a deal to minimise non-tariff barriers, consumers face delays on the supply of goods.

“The retail industry would [also] be seriously affected without access to labour from the EU, with a range of skills, to get goods on the shelves and out to consumers.

“We want to engage further with government, parliament, and other decision-makers in these next vital months, to demonstrate what is missing in this document – that consumers would face the biggest hit on prices, choice, and availability from a no deal or weak deal Brexit.”

 

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