US organizations assessing $600bn UK venture on Brexit fears

US companies are reportedly reviewing the future of almost $600bn worth of UK investments due to concerns Britain will have restricted access to the EU single market in the wake of June’s Brexit vote.

The FT reports that in a document to be presented to the UK’s Cabinet Office this week, the US Chamber of Commerce warns a post-Brexit UK would need “unfettered access” to the European goods and services market for American companies to continue expansion plans.

The Chamber added that another priority for US businesses was the retention of passporting rights for UK-based financial services firms, which allow products to be sold into the EU. It said losing this right will force American companies based in the UK to shoulder the burden of significant additional cost.

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Marjorie Chorlins, the Chamber’s vice-president for EU affairs, said US companies have been making long-term contingency plans for expanding outside of the UK in the event of restricted EU access, and are looking at whether it makes sense to continue to expand their investment in the UK.

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The Chamber added claims that low EU external tariffs mean the cost of leaving the single market will be insignificant are “nonsense”.

“Ultimately, these costs are likely to be borne by British workers and consumers,” the Chamber said in the note presented to UK and EU ambassadors in Washington on Friday.

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“Already some US businesses have indicated that, without continued seamless free market access to Europe, investment and hiring decisions likely would favour other locations.

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“We believe the UK must continue to allow the movement of labour without overly restrictive barriers.

“In addition to ensuring that businesses in the UK will be able to employ EU nationals without undue bureaucratic burdens in the future, reassurances should be extended to the approximately three million EU nationals today in the UK, representing about 6.6% of the workforce.”