Tuesday 10 November 2020 6:58 am

Auto industry pleas for zero-tariff deal as Brexit prep bill passes £735 million

The UK auto industry has issued a last-chance plea for a zero-tariff, zero-quota trade deal, as the UK-EU free trade talks enter the final stretch. 

The plea comes as a survey from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has revealed the cost to the sector for preparing for Brexit has surpassed £735 million – with more than £235 million spent in 2020 alone.

Read more: Car sales fall again in worst October in nine years

The SMMT has calculated a ‘no deal’ Brexit could cost the sector up to £47 billion in lost trade in cars and vans alone in the next five years.   

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “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.”

Industry stockpiling

The sector is trying hard to prepare for the end of transition period customs and border arrangements, but claims lack of clarity on post-December trading is still hampering efforts. 

More than two-thirds (67%) of companies across the industry have said they are doing everything in their control to prepare for new processes that will come into play on 1 January 2021, marking the end of the Brexit transition period.

Some 70 per cent of firms have secured GB Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) numbers – a unique ID code used to track and register customs information in the EU. A total 60 per cent are spending significantly on stockpiling and just more than half (52%) of firms have employed customs agents.

However nine in 10 firms believe a lack of clarity on the nature of the UK and EU’s future relationship is hampering their efforts.