Industry leaders plea for UK-EU negotiators to agree a zero-tariff trade agreement before the end of the Brexit transition period
The UK car industry has spent £735 million preparing for Brexit so far, as industry leaders urge negotiators from the UK and the EU to come to an agreement on a zero-tariff free trade deal before the Brexit transition period ends.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has revealed that the industry has so far spent £735 million preparing for Brexit, with £235 million spent in 2020 alone.
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Some 67 per cent of SMMT member firms say they are doing everything in their control to prepare for Brexit, with 70 per cent acquiring GB Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) numbers, 60 per cent spending significantly on stockpiling, and 52 per cent employing customs agents.
The industry’s reliance on ‘just-in-time’ deliveries, however, means any hold-ups at the border will have significant impacts. The SMMT has called for clarity on the operation of key new customs systems, such as the Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS) and the Permission to Progress (P2P) process.
Even if a free trade agreement (FTA) is struck, the SMMT says if goods cannot be moved freely then there is no way for firms to benefit from preferential trading terms. The SMMT predicts a no-deal Brexit – or even an “unworkable” one – will cost the sector £47 billion in car and van sales alone over the next five years.
Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT, said: “As the UK-EU FTA negotiations enter the endgame, now is the time for both sides to deliver on promises to safeguard the automotive industry.
“Securing a deal is absolutely critical, but it cannot be any deal. To work for UK automotive it must deliver for UK products, and that means securing the right terms and conditions that allow our exports – now and in the future – to be zero-tariff and zero-quota trade.
“A deal that failed to achieve this would be the equivalent to no deal at all, devastating jobs and slamming the brakes on the UK’s ambitions to be a world-leading manufacturer and market for electrified mobility and battery technologies.”
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