On 25th January, the British Furniture Confederation (BFC) chairman Jonathan Hindle gave evidence to Parliament on the Government’s proposed Trade Bill.
The Trade Bill’s Public Bill Committee is in the process of examining the bill line by line, and is taking oral evidence from relevant bodies across the UK and the industry.
Trade Minister Greg Hands MP, Shadow International Trade Secretary Barry Gardiner MP, SNP Trade Spokesperson Hannah Bardell MP and Shadow Business Minister Bill Esterson MP were all present on the committee.
Key exporting industries such as food and drink, and steel, were represented, as were the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and Unite the Union.
Jonathan took the opportunity to seek clarity and continuity for the furniture industry as the UK leaves the EU. He explained that as a pragmatic industry with exporters who already trade globally, the concerns relayed to him were about a lack of clarity on what the post-Brexit system will look like, and the effects that a weakened Pound could have.
Turning to the key provisions of the bill, Jonathan cautiously welcomed the creation of a Trade Remedies Authority on the condition that it marked a step change in the policing and surveillance of UK regulations on key standards such as flammability, and strength and stability measures.
He stated the BFC’s support for BSI retaining its membership of CEN and CENELEC, and suggested that rather than a watering down of standards, the bigger issue faced by the sector today is ensuring standards are consistently met.
He also took the opportunity to underline how important the enforcement of intellectual property rights is to the furniture and furnishing sector, as a design-led industry.
Jonathan says: “I was delighted to be invited to give the furniture industry’s perspective to the Committee, many of whom were already aware of the BFC’s work on the Industrial Strategy and with the Migration Advisory Committee. This was an opportunity to take the message to a wider audience of MPs that the furniture industry is not looking for protectionist measures or handouts after Brexit. That being said, the Government must provide as much clarity on the UK’s trade regime as early as possible so that imports and exports can continue as usual on day one.”
Watch Jonathan’s session here.