05:52 GMT30 November 2020
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    LONDON (Sputnik) – The British Chambers of Commerce said on Monday that the post-Brexit free trade agreement between the UK and the EU is still possible and critically important, after negotiations are on a knife-edge, with both sides accusing each other of lack of flexibility on fishing quotas and the so-called level playing field.

    "A UK-EU deal is still both possible and critically important. No matter what happens, businesses will have to change. But we need a deal that supports businesses and jobs, and final clarity over what changes they must make," the BCC said in a statement in response to a new UK government publicity campaign warning UK firms doing trade with the EU that time is running out to prepare for a no-deal Brexit.

    According to the representative body of 52 Accredited Chambers of Commerce across the UK, despite more businesses will undoubtedly step up preparations ahead of the end of the transition period on 31 December, many of them are still facing unanswered questions about Brexit that have a big impact on their day to day operations.

    "Facing the triple threat of a resurgent Coronavirus, tightening restrictions and a disorderly end to the transition period, it is little wonder businesses are struggling to prepare. Many firms will be tired of posturing, cliff edges and deadlines, while others are still grappling with fundamental challenges as a result of the pandemic," the statement added.

    The UK government announced on Sunday evening that Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Cabinet Minister Michael Gove will hold talks with business leaders this week to ask them to step up their efforts to get ready for the changes and opportunities in just over eight weeks.

    The call to action is part of the “Time is running out” publicity campaign being launched this week, and which includes the government’s Revenue and Customs department writing to 200,000 firms to set out new customs and tax rules coming into force next year.

    This is a June 15, 2016 file photo of of traffic crossing the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland in the village of Bridgend, Co Donegal Ireland
    © AP Photo / Brian Lawless/PA, File
    This is a June 15, 2016 file photo of of traffic crossing the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland in the village of Bridgend, Co Donegal Ireland

    The UK left the EU on 31 January, but as part of the withdrawal agreement, both sides entered an 11-month transition period to negotiate their future commercial relations.

    Fishing quotas, the level-playing field — the set of common rules and standards designed to prevent businesses in one country from undercutting their rivals in other countries — and governance remain the sticking points after nine rounds of post-Brexit talks, so, Johnson said on Friday that the United Kingdom "should get ready" to leave the EU without a free trade agreement.

    The prime minister’s spokesman said later on that the talks were over unless the European bloc changed its approach on the sticking points, but Gove told the BBC broadcaster on Sunday that the door “is still ajar.”

    UK chief negotiator David Frost and his EU counterpart Michel Barnier are expected to speak by phone on Monday, in another attempt to break the deadlock.

    Tags:
    trade, European Union, United Kingdom, Brexit
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