CEO Update

As the end of the transition period looms, SMMT support is available

11 September 2020 #CEO Update

This week marks the start of the 8th round of UK-EU trade talks, yet we are still no closer to knowing the exact nature of our trading relationships across the Channel from 1 January. In the absence of clarity, SMMT remains committed to providing dedicated support to our members, ensuring they are preparing as best they can for the end of the Brexit transition period.

While trade with the EU is critical, today’s agreement in principle of a Japan-UK Free Trade Agreement is welcome. This agreement should help foster a mutually beneficial automotive trade and investment relationship between the two countries, building on a shared automotive history that stretches back more than 40 years.

As we await the full terms of the agreement and, in particular, evidence that it will deliver in full on industry’s priorities for the progressive lifting of tariffs and reduction of regulatory barriers, the conclusion of such an FTA represents a significant milestone for our industries. We hope the deal can be ratified swiftly but, for both sides to benefit fully, we still need to urgently complete an ambitious and tariff-free UK-EU deal.

With time now running short to secure a deal with the EU, SMMT launched a new series of webinars in August focussing on getting automotive businesses ready for a new trading reality. The fourth webinar in the series, which will examine trade and the critical issue of ‘Rules of Origin’, will be hosted on 22 September.

SMMT will be joined by HM Revenue and Customs to cover the UK’s Global Tariff schedules and how it differs from the EU’s Common External Tariff, what proving origin is and the types of documentation companies will need to complete for moving goods between the UK and the EU. You can register here. Previous webinars have concentrated on other crucial themes including immigration and regulation. The audio and slides from these can be accessed here.

How the sector transitions out of the EU will feature as a key theme as part of the first in a new SMMT digital event series focussed on automotive supply chain issues. SMMT Open Forum Digital: Funding and Support happens online on 29 September with industry leaders bringing the latest Covid-19, trade and economic news.

The event has been designed to help business across the supply chain understand what help is available from SMMT and other organisations during these unprecedented times, and will feature a panel discussion with Q&A plus virtual breakout and networking sessions. I would encourage you to sign up here.

In other news this week, following SMMT Drive Zero last week, the shift to electrification continued to attract the headlines, with World EV Day, Climate Assembly UK publishing its report, and welcome announcements from government to help decarbonise road transport. Manufacturers invested more than £54 billion last year alone to introduce more zero emission vehicles so we welcome appropriate initiatives that boost their popularity. Market transformation, however, will need world-class support including investment in charging infrastructure plus purchase incentives. These should include no tax on zero emission-capable cars, alongside a long-term commitment to the Plug-in Grant. Ultimately, we need positive measures, not talk of bans or schemes that penalise consumers.