Brexit will generate a range of issues for the UK chemical industry, both short- and long-term. Short-term issues that could soon affect the industry’s operations include:


  • Exit from the Customs Union, leading to less free access to EU markets

  • Increased cost of raw materials imported from the EU

  • Reduced supply of EU-sourced labour


In the longer term, other issues may develop that present both opportunities and challenges to the industry. Examples include:


  • Regulations: Possible divergence between UK and EU regulatory environment, resulting both in advantages and in challenges for UK companies.

  • Improved access to some non-EU markets: New free trade agreements with non-EU countries may create opportunities to explore new markets.

  • EU funding: Access to EU funding for research and regional development may be affected.

  • Europe-wide mechanisms and institutions: The UK’s relationship with a range of other entities may be affected. Examples include: The European Patent Office, EURATOM, the European Space Agency, CERN, ITER (experimental nuclear fusion reactor in France), and the European Medicines Agency.


By working in a coordinated manner to plan a strategy, the UK chemical sector can mitigate these challenges and maximise opportunities. We therefore challenge UK Chemistry as follows:


UK Chemistry should identify key cross-sector actions needed to maximise the positive outcome of Brexit for the sector, and plan a coordinated set of steps to realise these actions.


Some examples of how the sector could work together to prepare for Brexit include:


  • Gathering information that allows each entity to assess its own SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) arising from Brexit

  • Assessing the potential labour shortage, and planning a strategy to mitigate this by means of outreach, training, education and apprenticeships

  • Identifying key goods and services that are currently imported from the EU and could be affected by Brexit, and looking for opportunities to increase domestic supply to offset the impact


If you are interested in collaborating on this project, or you would like to receive a copy of the full Challenge Statement proposal, please contact us.