2022 presents new international opportunities
2022 has the potential to be a busy year for international trade between the UK automotive sector, it’s established partners and a host of markets that present new prospects across the world. Of course, the European Union is still our most important trading partner, with around six-in-ten of the cars we ship overseas heading into Europe.
Nevertheless, as this country and wider world try to put the worst of the pandemic behind us, it will be important for us to get on the front foot internationally, promoting UK automotive’s strengths and investment opportunities to global stakeholders far and wide.
The government is continuing its ambitious negotiating agenda, with talks beginning last week with India and future negotiations with the Gulf Cooperation Council, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE, already in the pipeline.
This is welcome news to the sector, but these deals must put automotive – the most valuable export industry for this country – at the heart of the discussions. Signing new trade agreements is one thing, but the devil is always in the detail and new agreements must ensure that UK automotive businesses are able to benefit fully from the opportunities they are intended to create.
For example, Britain has one of the most diverse ranges of specialist, luxury and performance brands anywhere in the world; firms that produce high value products for export and sustain well-paid and cutting-edge jobs nationwide. Following the conclusion of an FTA with Australia last year, welcomed by the industry for its removal of tariff barriers, more discussion is necessary to try and remove further non-tariffs barriers, especially “behind the border” taxes such as Australia’s luxury car tax which makes many of the UK’s exports less competitive in the market. Such an approach is needed not just for Australia but in all future trade negotiations.
As ever, SMMT’s international team will be working to help UK automotive companies trade overseas, creating opportunities to increase their presence in international markets through a range of events, webinars, reports and other activities.
Having completed a virtual roundtable on electrification in India earlier in the week, the team’s upcoming work includes expressions of interest for automotive technology trade missions to India, Poland, the Electric Vehicle Symposium in Oslo and, of course, Automechanika Frankfurt in September.
Finally, homegrown battery gigafactories are essential if Britain is to be internationally competitive as an EV manufacturing nation. Today’s announcement of government support and investment is important, not just for the project itself but in the creation of a world-class EV production supply chain in the UK. Given the potential to create thousands of highly skilled jobs, both directly and indirectly, it is a significant step ensuring the UK can play a leading role in the global shift to zero-emission motoring.