Opportunities for automotive on both sides of the Atlantic
After two years of travel restrictions, SMMT was finally able to resume cross Atlantic discussions this week with a visit to Washington D.C. to strengthen collaboration with our sister associations and members with business in the U.S as well as resuming discussions with key automotive and trade policy stakeholders including the Department of Commerce and senior US Trade Representatives.
The US is a crucial market for our sector and our second biggest trading partner after the EU, taking 16.8% of British exports in 2021. Reciprocal automotive trade and investment between both countries has created high-value jobs, boosting both economies over many years, and SMMT remains at the forefront of championing this relationship to boost the UK sector.
However, to maximise the opportunities for UK Automotive and, indeed, the wider UK economy, the US and UK need to work to reduce tariffs and other trade barriers, and ensure preferential access in both markets whilst maintaining high environmental and safety standards. The visit was timely as the UK and US Governments meet next week in Aberdeen as part of new initiative of dialogue, looking to discuss some of the broader issues facing the two nations including critical themes for the sector including decarbonisation, global trade and “levelling up” which is a theme for both the Johnson and Biden administrations.
Some 3,454 miles away from Washington D.C, and back on British shores, bosses from some of the UK’s biggest electric vehicle, battery and component manufacturers will meet in Sunderland next month to discuss how best to secure the future of the automotive industry in the North East, by delivering investment, growth and jobs for the region.
SMMT’s Regional Forum North East, held at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light on 5 May, comes as our latest analysis reveals the region has benefitted from more investment into electric vehicle and battery production than any other in the UK, some £4.1bn.
This comes as little surprise, as the North East is one of the UK’s most important automotive manufacturing hubs, making products that are export-driven while sustaining thousands of well-paid, skilled jobs, highlighting its importance to the sector, the economy and the decarbonisation of road transport.
However, no region can rest on its laurels, so it is important that its competitive advantage is retained and further investment secured, not just to create new jobs and growth but to bolster the UK’s shift to net zero.