CEO Update

EU-UK deal must prioritise automotive, not trade it away

02 October 2020 #CEO Update

With the ninth round of EU-UK trade talks concluding this week, time is running out to secure a comprehensive deal before the end of the transition period. As the nation’s biggest exporter of goods, and with hundreds of thousands of livelihoods dependent on it, the automotive sector needs reassurance that it will be prioritised in negotiations, not traded off against other industries– and certainly not to sectors worth some percentage of automotive.

The government has repeatedly expressed support for the sector, and SMMT has engaged across all government departments to make the case for auto built on sound facts. We need a deal that is tariff-free and quota free but which ensures all UK automotive products benefit. Even with a deal, without a workable arrangement for Rules of Origin and cumulation, many businesses could still be hit with tariffs and their competitiveness undermined. The sector is too important to be traded away.

As negotiations continue, so does the pandemic, and  this week SMMT launched two of our own schemes to provide additional industry wide assistance.

SMMT’s Safe Harbour Scheme has been designed to prevent insolvencies and save jobs and is open to all automotive businesses. With thousands of jobs already lost this year and challenging times ahead, the Safe Harbour Scheme will help companies in distress, providing breathing space and support as the sector tries to restart amid weak business and consumer confidence.

The Safe Harbour process begins with a confidential conversation between the company experiencing difficulties and SMMT. For businesses deciding to enter Safe Harbour, SMMT facilitates engagement with all relevant stakeholders and an Independent Third Party to identify and implement measures to ensure business continuity. We hope it will provide much-needed support for UK businesses, and is an approach we are likely to see replicated in other major automotive markets. Find out more here.

SMMT has also stepped in to help save automotive apprenticeships, this week introducing a new Covid salary support scheme. The SMMT Charitable Trust Fund (SCTF) has announced a £100,000 fund to help Covid-hit automotive businesses who are considering redundancies save apprenticeship jobs after the conclusion of the government’s furlough scheme.

Automotive in the UK has been built upon decades of craftmanship, engineering excellence and innovation delivered by a highly skilled workforce and its long-term recovery and growth will depends on retaining and developing this skills base. Apprenticeships are crucial to this – with today’s apprentices ultimately becoming tomorrow’s leaders – and this initiative will help protect their jobs now so that they can drive our future success.

To read more about the entry criteria and how to apply, please click here.

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