Industry warns Government “time is up” to protect consumer choice

With less than five months to go until Britain starts trading under UK rules, nobody knows what these are. Lack of clarity on the regulations required for goods coming into the country is already threatening Britain’s shopping choices from 1 January 2021 and jeopardising the supply of imported parts for hard-pressed UK manufacturers.

AMDEA (the Association of Manufacturers of Domestic Appliances) has brought together 15 powerful UK trade associations representing thousands of companies to write to Michael Gove, in his role as Minister for the Cabinet Office, pressing for a solution. It is here that ultimate responsibility lies for laws linked to Brexit that span various government departments.

The wide variety of leading brands of fridges, toys, TVs, consumer electronics and homewares that British consumers expect to find in their shops or online all need to certify that they have complied with rigorous tests, before they can be sold in this country.

According to the Government, on 1 January 2021, previously established EU compliance standards represented by the CE mark, will now be replaced by UKCA – a new UK conformity assessment. Except that no details of the compliance requirements needed for this standard are available.

In the meantime companies are already testing, certifying and shipping products to reach this country for Christmas and the new year. Potentially these goods may fail to meet the new, as yet unspecified, rules. If UKCA becomes mandatory on the 1 January they may have to be withdrawn from sale.

Paul Hide, CEO of AMDEA, pointed out that we are approaching the moment when leading international brands will not risk shipping their latest models to the UK: “The Government urgently needs to provide the details of the new requirements or commit to a significant period of tolerance, say 24 months, where the CE marking, a universally recognised mark of compliance, will still be accepted.

“At this late stage anything less risks severely diminishing shoppers’ choice, increasing prices and disrupting supplies for UK industries.”