Construction left out of Brexit trade advisory groups


The construction sector has been left out of a roster of new Trade Advisory Groups (TAGs), which were launched yesterday to offer guidance to the government during its final Brexit negotiations. The end of the current transition period is expected in the new year.

A total of 11 TAGs were announced by international trade secretary Liz Truss (pictured), including agriculture and food, automotive, aerospace and marine, manufacturing and consumer goods, investment, life sciences, tech and telecoms, chemicals, financial services, professional advisory services, transport services and creative industries.

The latest snub follows a lack of representation for the construction sector in earlier Brexit consultations, convened by the Cabinet Office and chaired by Michael Gove in August 2019 and January this year. A wide spectrum of British industry was represented at those earlier meetings but no construction trade body was invited, to the dismay of leaders representing various construction federations.

When Construction News contacted the Department for International Trade (DIT) to ask why the construction sector was excluded from the TAGs list, a spokeswoman declined to comment.

According to a release by the DIT, the TAGs will bring “insight and expertise of top business people” which will be used to “inform the government’s negotiating position and deliver key industry asks that benefit the whole UK”. The DIT said the trade secretary is stepping up engagement with industry as trade talks with Japan, the US, Australia and New Zealand intensify.

Tata Steel is included as a representative within the British manufacturing and consumer goods TAG, along with Reid Steel and Bridgnorth Aluminium.

Some small manufacturers, such as the Cambridge Satchel Company that employs just 125 people, have earned a place on the TAG roll call. By contrast no organisation from the construction sector, which as a whole employs 2.2m people including large numbers of European migrant workers, appears among the firms listed.

Earlier in the month, the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) set up a Brexit working group to issue sector guidance, as well as identify critical issues facing the industry in the event of the UK failing to strike a deal with the European Union.

CN contacted the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to query whether the CLC’s Brexit group would have any involvement with the new TAGs but received no response.

In January, construction minister Nadhim Zahawi said Brexit would mark “a new era for UK commerce and UK construction”, and claimed it would “redefine [the UK’s] relationship with the world, build a global free-trading economy, and open up international markets to products and services” developed by the UK construction sector. Speaking to the Westminster Business Forum group at the time, he said he was intentionally focusing on the existing approach to Brexit outlined in the Construction Sector Deal in 2018, rather than committing to any new policies.

Source: Construction News

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