The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has stressed the importance of a Brexit deal that includes customs union membership and single market benefits.

In a statement, the SMMT said that “with investment slowing and time running out, negotiators must get on with the job of agreeing a deal that will put an end to uncertainty and prioritise the needs of the automotive sector”.

The SMMT has just published its latest Sustainability Report which revealed a record year for turnover in 2017. The automotive sector’s contribution to the economy, when considering its impact on adjacent sectors, now stands at the same 10% of UK GDP, according to the SMMT. Employment across the industry rose 2.8%.

The automotive industry has also made improvements environmentally, with only 0.7% of waste making its way to landfill and reducing the energy used to produce each car.

Despite the positive figures from 2017, this year has been a different story.

Both demand for new vehicles and production has fallen. Job cuts have also been announced and investment in new models and facilities has fallen dramatically in comparison to 2017.

The SMMT says that government must act quickly to make a deal and end trading uncertainty in order to safeguard investment and jobs.

The SMMT’s chief executive, Mike Hawes, said:

“Today’s figures show the critical importance of the automotive industry to the UK economy. 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.”

Image: Honda

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