Time is running out on Brexit, and the UK should remain in a customs union with the EU, the Confederation of British Industry has warned. Carolyn Fairbairn, head of the UK business group, said there was a lack of clarity surrounding ongoing talks about the future of UK-EU trade.
Speaking on ITV's Peston on Sunday, she also said a customs union would be best for UK economic growth and prosperity.
The UK's Department for Exiting the EU said Brussels had an ambitious free trade approach to exit discussions.
We are confident of negotiating a deep and special economic partnership that includes a good deal for financial services - that will be in the EU's best interests, as well as ours, a spokesman said.
But they added as the prime minister has already made clear, we will be leaving the single market and the customs union after EU exit day, referring to 29 March 2019.
Being a member of a customs union means that once goods have cleared customs in one country, they can be shipped to others in the union without further tariffs being imposed.
Businesses have been calling for clarity on what a replacement system will involve.
In a speech at Warwick University on Monday CBI director general Ms Fairbairn elaborated on her concerns, and said progress is needed on a transitional EU trade deal by April. She also said the framework for a future business trading relationship with Europe must be set out by October.
Ms Fairbairn said: There may come a day when the opportunity to fully set independent trade policies outweighs the value of a customs union with the EU. A day when investing time in fast-growing economies elsewhere eclipses the value of frictionless trade in Europe. But that day hasn't yet arrived.
Remaining a member of a customs union for as long as it serves us to do so is consistent with the result of the referendum and would be good for EU firms too she added.
Ms Fairbairn will set a 70-day deadline for a written agreement on a transitional trade deal between the UK and EU. Decisions must be taken fast, or firms will have no choice but to trigger their plan Bs.