SMMT: the automotive industry should be “at the heart of UK trade policy”

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The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has called for the UK auto industry to be placed at the heart of future trade deals, after issuing a report highlighting its importance to the export market.

Vehicle exports grossed £ 27 billion in 2020, despite the effects of the pandemic, the highest number of products exported by value.

The auto industry as a whole brought in £ 74bn in combined trade last year, less than the £ 100bn that would have been expected without the disruption caused by Covid-19.

The SMMT report – titled Leading Global Britain – also underlines the importance of exchanges with the European Union. About half of all cars and almost all vans made in the UK are exported to the 27 EU member states, while 78.1% of cars on UK roads come from the EU.

“As the world emerges from the pandemic, the diversity and importance of the UK automotive industry is the UK’s competitive advantage in boosting growth, creating jobs and tackling climate change,” said the SMMT CEO Mike Hawes.

“With the automobile at the heart of future trade policy and negotiations focused on removing the growth-stifling tariff and non-tariff barriers, we can advance the growth of Britain globally and maintain our place as a leader. economic, industrial and environmental. “

The Asian and Eastern European markets are expected to grow rapidly over the next few years, and the SMMT wants dedicated automotive annexes to be included in future trade agreements to reduce tariffs and remove barriers. regulatory.

However, Hawes admitted that deals with the United States and China – the UK’s second and third largest export markets, respectively – remain “unlikely” without new political will.

The report marks the SMMT’s first global trade conference and comes at a time when the auto industry is facing pressure on multiple fronts. The pandemic, the global shortage of semiconductor chips, the additional costs to supply chains following Brexit and the UK government’s commitment to ban sales of new gasoline and diesel vehicles from 2030 have all contributed in one form or another in the past 18 months.

Several companies are actively interested in the UK both as a manufacturing base and as a market, Hawes said, but rising energy costs (now among the highest in Europe) and commercial tariffs could potentially prohibit investment.

Manufacturers also agree that the UK needs to deliver around 60 to 90 GWh of domestic electric vehicle battery production by the end of the decade in order to remain competitive.


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