Ministers ‘listening’ to car industry concerns over trade barriers

Car industry leaders have been told that the Government is listening to their concerns about barriers to trade.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), told a conference that Europe was the sector’s number one trading partner “by some considerable distance”.

He said: “Over half our exports go to the rest of Europe and around 70% of the vehicles we buy come from Europe.

“Preserving that trade – tariff-free, quota-free and, ideally, friction-free – remains the objective.”

We will be acting in a targeted and strategic way

Kemi Badenoch

Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch told the conference that recent investment decisions by car companies including Ford, Stellantis and BMW were a “huge vote of confidence” in this country’s motor industry.

She said: “The UK’s automotive sector is world leading, and it demonstrates that the Government has the right plan for industry and is leading the way not just in the production of cars but in developing the zero emission and green technologies that will help us hit net zero.

“And in the coming months, I hope to have more good news for you. I’m hoping to announce an Advanced Manufacturing Plan that will ensure the UK automotive industry remains competitive.

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“But we’re not going to do that by entering distortive subsidy battles. Protectionism is not the answer. We still believe in free trade, it is what’s going to keep us prosperous.

“We will be acting in a targeted and strategic way. We’re going to build on our innovation ecosystem, we’re going to focus on sectors where we have comparative advantage and ensure the UK has a competitive business environment.

“That is what the Government’s strategy is, and most importantly we’ll continue to listen. I am your advocate in government and I will continue to champion your interests at every opportunity.”

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