CEO Update

Why existing trade ties matter

14 June 2018 #CEO Update

Developments this week in Quebec, at the G7 summit, and in Singapore, where the leaders of the USA and North Korea met, illustrated how new relationships can be forged while strong and existing ones are disrupted. It brings the UK’s predicament into sharp focus.

For automotive, as an export-led industry, future growth and jobs depend first and foremost on Britain maintaining productive trading arrangements with our largest trading partner, Europe. Building relationships with other markets overseas is important, and goes on constantly, but can not readily substitute the scale and integration we currently have with Europe.

Working in tandem with government departments in the UK and globally, SMMT makes regular overseas trade missions promoting the interests and incredible capability of Britain’s motor industry. These visits to key existing and emerging markets have always been important, but with the UK leaving Europe in less than 300 days time, our future trading relationships are of critical importance.

Missions to China, India and Slovakia (this week) have already taken place in 2018, with visits to South Korea, Germany, Japan and Mexico all forthcoming, and a second trip to China due before Christmas. In addition, from September 11-15, SMMT will be hosting one of its biggest ever pavilions at Automechanika Frankfurt, the leading global event for the aftermarket which hosts some 5,000 exhibitors and an expected 130,000 visitors.

A small number of exhibition booths are still available, supported by Department of International Trade grants of £1,500. Please get in touch with the SMMT international team for details.

Brexit, trading relationships and how the UK is viewed around the world will all be up for debate at the 10th SMMT International Automotive Summit, taking place on Tuesday 26 June at the IET in London. Two years ago this event took place just a few days after the EU referendum result, and this year our UK and Europe panel, joined by some of the most influential political and economic experts in the country, will again explore the latest Brexit developments.

Free and frictionless trade with Europe has been the foundation of the UK automotive industry’s recent success, with customs union membership helping create the conditions needed for ‘just in time’ manufacturing processes. The Future of Border Logistics panel will explore, with car manufacturers and logistic companies, the implications that will arise if this highly efficient model is disrupted.

The Summit is an SMMT member-only event and members can still receive a complimentary ticket and purchase additional tickets. For information, email

Mike Hawes, Chief Executive, SMMT

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