British automakers warned that the next UK government needs to deliver a “world-beating Brexit trade deal” to bolster their competitiveness and safeguard jobs following a split from the European Union.
Carmakers need a frictionless border free of tariffs and customs, regulatory alignment and access to talent, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders lobby group said ahead of the country’s general election on December 12.
A victory for prime minister Boris Johnson may lead Britain to quit the EU on January 31, triggering detailed trade talks. It’s vital those negotiations result in the close trading relationship needed to unlock investment in zero-carbon technology, according to the SMMT, which held its annual dinner.
“The automotive sector is going through a period of unprecedented change and we must not let the pressure of Brexit deflect from our focus on a coherent national industrial strategy,” SMMT president George Gillespie said. “Collaboration between industry and government must be stronger than ever.”
Tariffs on imported parts and exported vehicles under World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules would inflate manufacturing costs by 3.2 billion pounds ($4.1 billion), the SMMT said, forcing prices to rise and global demand for UK cars to shrink. Auto output could halve to 1 million units by 2024, it warned.
Carmakers have spent more than 500 million pounds preparing for Brexit, with Nissan Motor Co last month issuing the starkest warning yet against a no-deal scenario.