Watch the webinar
- Tony Danker, Director-General, CBI
- Tania Kumar, Principal Policy Adviser, CBI
- Russell Antram, Head of EU Negotiations, CBI
- Angela McGowan, Northern Ireland Director, CBI
- James Harding, Co-Founder and Editor, Tortoise Media (Chair)
- Tony is optimistic about 2021 and the decade ahead, particularly around: developing our competitiveness outside the European Union; leading the way on net-zero, particularly as hosts of COP26 later this year; and addressing regional inequalities
- Business and government worked well last year during the crisis – Tony hopes that the reconstruction will mirror this collaboration
- The CBI is working on establishing an economic vision for the UK in the years ahead, looking at international competitiveness model and engaging regions and nations on this – where can Britain be competitive and distinctive?
- On COVID-19:
- It’s a worsening situation for firms – with a significant cashflow impact on businesses – shrinking reserves, little ability to forecast or model, which means we need to acquire data on the cash position of firms and take this to government
- It’s still unknown about how many vaccinations it will take for us re-open the economy
- The job’s not done – we need to get businesses and employees through the next few weeks and then we can think about opening up
- Businesses should be promoting vaccinations but not mandating
- Tony really wants to speak to members this week on impacts of tiering on their business: are they changing their planning scenarios in terms of investment and growth, what is their financial situation, and any unintended consequences as a result of new restrictions?
- On Brexit:
- It’s good news that the UK has a deal and that we have a trading relationship and goodwill established – we can build on this – but we’re still waiting for progress on services, mutual recognition of professional qualifications, and data sharing
- Tony wants members to tell the CBI about any issues they encounter with new protocols over the next weeks and months.
- Lots of businesses are thinking about their role in the vaccine rollout, establishing the facts and working out how this impacts business operations and staff e.g., around vaccine confidence
- There are lots of fluctuations in the external environment around vaccine supply, NHS capacity, rising infection rates – if we can inoculate 30m of the most vulnerable that will make a big difference
- Businesses recognise their role in the overall health of their employees, not necessarily in mandating people to receive the vaccine but providing safety precautions, encouraging people to get tested, flexible working hours
- It’s still unknown who will be prioritised for phase 2 and phase 3 tranches, but overall getting tested, social distancing, and isolating effectively will all continue to be vital throughout 2021
- There are also business anxieties around the new variant and transmission rates and what this means for workplace protocols and confidence in returning to work.
- On the deal overall – we cannot underestimate how good it is we have a deal. Tariff and quota-free trade is a big positive. It has removed some technical barriers to trade but is still a little thin on services. But some sectors like air operators and legal services should be relatively happy
- Continuity deal with Turkey has now been delivered as a result of the deal which will also be beneficial to supply chains
- Financial services timetable – both sides have committed to setting out a framework for regulatory alignment by March 2021.
- The Northern Ireland Protocol means we have some flexibility with goods and easier access into Europe. Some complexities outstanding on bringing goods from Great Britain into NI
- For goods going to and from NI – there are some complexities for goods travelling from GB to NI e.g., SPS checks for animals, customs declarations, clarification on rules of origin particularly if ‘at risk’ of going into the EU
- We still need to work out where the difficulties are, so it’s important that members feedback to the CBI on what they are experiencing.