CEO Update

Yet another crunch week in Brexit negotiations

23 November 2018 #CEO Update

Nothing concentrates the mind like a deadline – after an erratic 18 months of speeches, positioning and negotiation since Article 50 was invoked and the UK gave notice of its intention to leave the European Union, recent weeks have seen the developments come thick and fast.

Following the publication of the 500+ page draft Withdrawal Agreement last week that sought to set out the terms of leaving and the agreement of a transition period to negotiate the future relationship, the UK and EU have now published a 26-page draft political declaration that sets out the vision for the post-Brexit landscape.

While it might have been tortuous to get to where we are, the hard and detailed work really begins for both sides now. SMMT will review the latest developments in detail but industry’s position and Brexit priorities have been consistent and clear: we need frictionless trade with the European Union, alignment on regulations and access to the best talent the continent has to offer. Any barriers will damage the competitiveness of our sector and ‘no-deal’ simply cannot be an option.

While it is absolutely crucial to secure a good deal with our largest trading partner, we can’t lose sight of opportunities in other global markets. SMMT’s international team helps UK automotive companies develop business opportunities around the world, facilitating meetings and trade expositions.

In the coming months alone we will be at events in Vietnam, India, China and the USA, meeting with industry representatives and trade officials, helping companies network to create business opportunities and promoting the UK as a great place to do business.

One particular area that we will be working on in 2019 is targeted trade missions to open up supply chain possibilities for our members. To find out how to get involved, get in touch with the international team.

Elsewhere, the inaugural SMMT Automotive Quality Management Systems Conference welcomed a full house of quality management professionals to the NEC this week to hear speakers from across the global auto industry share their expertise and ideas.

Next Tuesday our 102nd Annual Dinner takes place, and more than 1,000 guests from across the industry, media and government are expected to attend to hear timely speeches from SMMT President Tony Walker and Business Secretary Greg Clark. I look forward to seeing many of you there.

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