'We must aim for right deal' CBI chief on post-Brexit relationship with Europe

Posted on Feb 22 2018 - 12:18am by admin

Director general Carolyn Fairbairn will denounce as a “false choice” claims that Britain can either be close to the European Union or thrive on the world stage.

It will be seen as an unusually upbeat assessment of the post-Brexit future from an organisation which has been consistently gloomy about leaving the European Union.

However, she is also underlining the CBI’s desire for the UK to retain very close links with the EU and stressing that Britain does not need to be free from Brussels to boost its trade links round the world.

Speaking at the CBI’s annual Chinese New Year Dinner for businesspeople and political leaders from across the Sino-British community, Ms Fairbairn will say the UK can and should enjoy growing trade with old and new partners alike.

She will tell guests: “As we leave the EU, we are rightly becoming more outward-looking, just as China continues to reform and open up its markets.

“Many people have claimed that we are at a junction where we can either stay close to Europe or become a more global Britain.

“This is a false choice. The high value of trade deals signed by British companies on the Prime Minister’s mission to China earlier this month provides the evidence.

“In fact, being close to Europe supports a more global Britain.

“None of these deals require free trade agreements.

“We are able to get on with them now.

“At the same time, we can and must aim for the right deal on Brexit.

“It’s not a case of one or the other. We can and should seek both.”

“And this year will provide some unique opportunities to do just that – to deepen our partnership with China while getting the best possible deal on Brexit, and work together towards a global Britain and a global China.”

Ms Fairbairn will hail record high trade between the UK and China and say it can be boosted even further by breaking down barriers for goods, services, visitors and students and strengthening existing deals.

“We talk about deals and we talk about billions of pounds, but what this really means is jobs. They create jobs and prosperity in both our countries,” she will add.

New agreements worth more than £9billion were signed by British companies who travelled with Theresa May on her recent visit to China.

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