Business groups have warned of increased barriers to trade post-Brexit, while decrying the UK´s lack of industrial strategy.
Manufacturers organisation EEF told BBC´s Radio 4 The Today programme that rising protectionism outside the EU was already hampering UK exports.
"There's a tendency to extend a preference to local firms and supporting local businesses, particularly in emerging markets," said EEF chief economist Lee Hopley.
EEF is worried that Brexit could make exporting for UK manufacturers even tougher in the years ahead.
In its briefing paper released in March, UK Trade with the EU: A new trading order for the manufacturing industry, EEF warned that the government needed to ensure that additional trade barriers did not arise as a result of Brexit, both in terms of the UK´s trade with countries outside the EU and with the EU itself.
In addition, last week, the CBI raised the pressure on the government by emphatically calling for the UK to remain inside both the EU single market and customs union until there is at least a fully comprehensive trade agreement in force with the EU.
On the same BBC programme, the recently established Industrial Strategy Commission highlighted the findings of its first major report: Laying the foundations, which calls on the UK government to set up institutions that can deliver an effective long-term industrial strategy for the whole of the country.
The report highlights how the UK government and private sector are investing far less in research and development compared with many other European and Asian countries.
Dame Kate Barker, chair of the Industrial Strategy Commission, said summer 2017 had become a “critical” juncture for the UK economy, given the hung parliament and rising concerns over the strength of the economy post-referendum.
“Now more than ever we need long-term strategic economic management to enable the UK to respond to current challenges and invest in our people, places and industries to achieve greater future prosperity,” said Barker.
EU trade deals
On Friday, the EU unveiled a free-trade deal with Japan, the EU´s largest agreement of its kind to date.
European Council leader Donald Tusk appeared to mock the UK when he celebrated the Japan deal with the words “Global Europe.”
UK Prime Minister Theresa May had used the term “Global Britain” earlier this year to highlight the potential for the UK to strike trade deals with non-EU nations once it leaves the EU.
The EU´s comprehensive free-trade agreement with Japan raises the bitter prospect that the UK could even find its trade terms with the EU become inferior to those that Japan will enjoy with the other 27 member states post-Brexit.
Repeal Bill speculation
In recent days, there has been increased speculation over whether the UK will actually leave the EU at all. The government is facing the prospect that rebel Conservative MPs will join with Labour and other opposition parties in voting down its upcoming Repeal Bill.
The bill is intended to upend the 1972 European Communities Act, which gives EU law supremacy over UK law. Should parliament vote against the bill, it´s possible that the UK´s plans to leave the EU could be derailed.