That was quite a week: Timber Trade Federation’s David Hopkins takes stock of Brexit implications

1 July 2016

It’s business very much as usual for the UK’s timber industry – at least for now – and despite the volatile and uncertain situation, timber firms remains well-represented by determined trade bodies, suggests the head of the Timber Trade Federation (TTF).

In a statement released a week after the historic referendum vote to leave the European Union, the organisation’s managing director David Hopkins took stock of the situation. The statement is below:

“Nearly a week has passed since the vote to leave the EU and the events of the week have certainly been tumultuous,” said Hopkins. “The dust and anger may have settled slightly but the picture is still not that much clearer.

“The immediate impact for TTF members has been the rapid decline in the value of Sterling against the dollar and euro with related volatility in other currencies. This appears – on the surface at least – to be stabilising and some ground has been regained along with climbs in the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250.

“Major house builders suffered initial blows to their future forecasts and analysts are predicting a slowdown in the market along with increased costs of 10-12% for major construction projects, leading to more being put on ice.

“However, much of this is speculation. During this time the TTF has been – and will continue – working with all European trade association partners to reassure them that the UK is still a strong market which is very much open for business, and that we will maintain strong market relations regardless of volatility.

“We have also been in contact with the Government, its agencies and enforcement bodies, the European Commission and others. On this, I would like to remind all members that EUTR is now a matter of UK law – regardless of the EU initials at the front – and is still being enforced in the UK and across the EU. It is a sensible risk-based regulation and an approach we continue to support.

“The EU Council put out a very positive statement this week stating that the EUTR and FLEGT had been a success in lowering the threat of illegal timber entering supply chains so far but still needs stronger enforcement.

“Regardless of last week’s vote, it is inconceivable that the UK will want to be seen to be weakening rules against illegal logging. From formal and informal discussions we’ve had with UK officials the mood seems to be to prove that the UK can continue with strong regime of environmental regulation, whether in or out of EU.

“I’d also like to remind everyone that the UK implemented the UK Timber Procurement Policy well ahead of EUTR, a policy which is still in existence and about which the Government is rightly very proud.

“We’ve also had meetings and statements from contractors and other buyers stating that they will be maintaining the strictest environmental and responsible sourcing standards regardless of the UK position in EU.

“In this regard, for the timber trade, it is business as usual.”