Five business lobby groups have warned UK Brexit Secretary David Davis that time is running out for a deal with the EU.
They have written to Mr Davis urging him to quickly establish a Brexit transition deal that mirrors existing arrangements – or risk losing British jobs and investment.
The CBI and British Chambers of Commerce have been joined by manufacturing trade body EEF, the Institute of Directors and the Federation of Small Businesses as signatories to the letter.
They write: “We need agreement of transitional arrangements as soon as possible, as without urgent agreement many companies have serious decisions about investment and contingency plans to take at the start of 2018.
“Failure to agree a transition period of at least two years could have wide-reaching and damaging consequences for investment and trade, as firms review their investment plans and business strategies.”
The head of the British Retail Consortium, Helen Dickinson, says that retailers have “exactly the same concerns” as the bodies which have signed the letter.
While the UK government and EU leaders insist progress is being made there is still no agreement on transition arrangements after March 2019 when the UK leaves the union.
A spokesperson for the Department for Exiting the European Union said: “We are making real and tangible progress in a number of vital areas in negotiations. However, many of the issues that remain are linked to the discussions we need to have on our future relationship.
“That is why we are pleased that the EU has now agreed to start internal preparatory discussions on the framework for transitional arrangements as well as our future partnership.”
However, the letter has emerged amid a growing number of warnings from business leaders that they will take their operations elsewhere unless a trade deal is agreed.
The boss of Goldman Sachs, one of the world’s biggest investment banks, said in a tweet: “Just left Frankfurt. Great meetings, great weather, really enjoyed it. Good, because I’ll be spending a lot more time there.”