Ford warns no Brexit deal will put the competitiveness of the car industry at risk and stresses importance of tariff-free trade

Rebecca Smith
Ford runs two engine plants in the UK at Bridgend and Dagenham
Ford runs two engine plants in the UK at Bridgend and Dagenham (Source: Getty)

The competitiveness of the UK's car industry is at stake if Britain doesn't secure a deal that provides tariff-free trade with the customs union, Ford's Europe boss warned today.

Ford's Europe and Middle East chief executive Jim Farley said:

Read more: UK car production hit a 17-year high last month thanks to bumper exports

Any deal must include securing tariff-free trade with the wider customs union and not just the EU27, whilst retaining access to the best talent and resources.

Given the short timeframe for negotiations, it also is critical that a transitional period is put in place to ensure that customers are not penalised and to maintain free trade.

In Ford's strongest warning yet over how Brexit could harm car production in the UK, Farley added: "No deal would be the very worst case for the UK auto industry and would put at risk the competitiveness of the industry."

He called on those negotiating to deliver "an ambitious Brexit deal" that maintains strong EU and UK economies, and creates "a competitive and investment-friendly environment".

Ford runs two engine plants in the UK, at Bridgend and Dagenham.

The government has said it will pursue "a bold and ambitious trade agreement" with the European Union as a priority in Brexit negotiations, starting now Theresa May has triggered Article 50, but there has been uncertainty across the automotive sector as to how this will play out.

Read more: Q&A: The European Commission's guide to Article 50 and the Brexit process

The chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has said companies were "at least sitting on their hands until there's a bit more clarity" regarding investment decisions.

"I sense certainly that the amount invested over the last 12 months will not be as high as the preceding one, two, three years," Mike Hawes said in January, giving evidence to the Treasury Select Committee on the UK's future economic relationship with the EU.

Elsewhere, Ryanair has been vocal in calling on the government to push aviation as a priority in the talks, warning today that failure to provide a "coherent post-Brexit plan" would risk leaving the UK without any flights to or from Europe for a period, once it leaves the EU in 2019.

Ryanair’s chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs said: “Some nine months on from the Brexit referendum, we are no closer to knowing what effect it will have on aviation. It’s become worrying that the UK government seems to have no plan B to maintain Britain’s liberalised air links with Europe, in the absence of remaining in the “Open Skies” regime."

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