Imported cars could cost more to buy after single market exit, warns SMMT
SMMT president urges government to “make the right decisions” as UK motor industry faces £4.5 billion car tariff threat
In a key speech at the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) 100th annual dinner, the president of the SMMT urged the government to develop its industrial strategy and put an immediate focus on automotive priorities post-Brexit.
Underlining the industry’s recent impressive growth while outlining the risks to investment and success if the benefits of the single market were lost, Gareth Jones used his speech to suggest that EU tariffs on cars alone could add at least an annual £2.7bn to imports and £1.8bn to exports.
Import tariffs alone could push up the list price of cars imported to the UK from the continent by an average of £1,500 if brands and their retail networks were unable to absorb these additional costs.
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Mr Jones address to more than 1,100 industry leaders and government officials came days after SMMT published production figures showing UK car makers are on track to set a new record for exports and beat the production volumes achieved last year:
“This renaissance is down to years of hard work, hard won investment and long-term collaborative partnership between industry and government,
“We need to create the right conditions for future competitiveness, for developing skills and securing the strength of our economy by investing in R&D, and enabling new technologies to be developed here in the UK.”
Commenting on the strength of the relationship between government and Industry, not least through the Automotive Council, Gareth Jones said: “The government has – commendably – put industrial strategy at the heart of the department for business. It does so as it faces its toughest challenge – leaving the EU. We must make the right decisions on trade, on regulations and on business competitiveness.
"The challenge now is to make a success of the new future. We want a strong UK economy and we want to see the UK's influence in the world enhanced. But this cannot be at the expense of jobs, growth or being an open, welcoming trading nation.
“You, our members, have told us what you want; membership of the single market, consistency in regulations, access to global talent and the ability to trade abroad free from barriers and red tape.”
The automotive industry is a vital part of the UK economy and currently accounts for more than £71.6bn turnover, with 169,000 people employed directly in manufacturing and 814,000 across the wider automotive industry.