SMMT calls for customs union membership post Brexit

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
26 June 2018

A UK automotive trade body is calling for continued British membership of the EU customs union following Brexit.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said investment was slowing as a result of economic uncertainty, with £347.3m invested in the first six months of 2018, a steep drop on the £647.4m announced in the same period last year.

The SMMT said every day more than 1,100 trucks from the EU brought components to car and engine plants in the UK. It said the automotive sector contributed £20.2bn to the UK economy but its impact on adjacent sectors amounted to around £202bn, 10% of GDP.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “There is growing frustration in global boardrooms at the slow pace of negotiations. The current position, with conflicting messages and red lines, goes directly against the interests of the UK automotive sector which has thrived on single market and customs union membership.

“There is no credible ‘plan B’ for frictionless customs arrangements, nor is it realistic to expect that new trade deals can be agreed with the rest of the world that will replicate the immense value of trade with the EU. Government must rethink its position on the customs union.

“There is no Brexit dividend for our industry, particularly in what is an increasingly hostile and protectionist global trading environment. Our message to government is that until it can demonstrate exactly how a new model for customs and trade with the EU can replicate the benefits we currently enjoy, don’t change it.”

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