The government’s announcement of a UK-EU trade deal last month has brought reassurance to the construction industry, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).
FMB chief executive Brian Berry said that Britain’s builders would welcome the certainty that the deal, which was announced on 24 December, seems to offer after what he called “the toughest of years”.
The agreement establishes zero tariffs or quotas on trade between the UK and the EU where goods meet the relevant rules of origin.
This includes provisions which reaffirm, incorporate, and build upon WTO commitments and principles, facilitate trade, and address non-tariff barriers (such as import and export licensing restrictions).
The agreement ensures continued market access rights for UK and EU road haulage operators.
Operators will continue to be able to move goods to, from, and through each other’s territories with no permit requirements, and make additional movements within each other’s territories, with limits on the number of permitted movements.
Cost of delays
Despite welcoming the deal, the FMB highlighted that small builders were already suffering the impacts of the delay.
“Unfortunately, the deal will have come too late for many already feeling the effects of prolonged indecision,” Berry said.
According to FMB’s latest State of Trade survey for Q3 2020, nine in 10 builders (87%) faced risings costs due to supply chain disruptions and higher product demand – up from eight in 10 (78%) in the summer.
The data also showed members had faced rolling shortages of key building materials, such as timber and plaster.
“We will wait to digest the detail, but this trade deal must deliver for builders by removing the barriers in their path to building back better and greener, be those access to products or skilled labour,” Berry said.
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