Many welcome government white paper

Representatives of the UK automotive industry have welcomed a government white paper on Brexit proposing an economic partnership when the UK leaves the European Union.

The paper outlines how the UK wants to establish a new free trade area to replace the single market and maintain the movement of goods without customs checks or controls.

Despite the proposal generally being regarded as a welcome step forward, some remain concerned that the competitiveness of the UK car market will be undermined if existing free trade arrangements are impaired, once Brexit takes place in March next year.

‘Tariff-free trade is important not only with the 27 EU states, but also other countries like Turkey and South Africa,’ said a spokesperson for Ford of Europe. ‘It’s right for the UK government to explore new global trading opportunities, but these can be pursued in parallel. The priority must be on maintaining free trade with the EU.’

The white paper puts forward a plan for a ‘facilitated customs arrangement’ that would enable the UK to control tariffs for its trade with the rest of the world. It also proposes mutual recognition of vehicle type approvals, including whole vehicle type approval certificates.

Last year the UK exported 1.34 million cars, 80% of what it produced. The EU took 800,000 units of that overall figure last year, according to figures from the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA). In the other direction the UK imported 2.3 million vehicles from EU member states, 11.7% of the 19.7 million cars made across the remainder of the EU. Continued trade in either direction is therefore crucial for carmakers based in the UK and Europe, and for those providing transport and logistics services.