The UK car industry could face serious consequences if Theresa May pursues a ‘hard Brexit’ strategy, reports Reuters. The President of the German VDA auto industry association threatened that German manufacturers would look at moving work abroad in the event of an UK exit from the single market.
Tariffs and protectionism might endanger a stable future for hundreds of German auto sites in the UK for up to seven years, experts warned. With up to 10% potentially added to car exports, business leaders fear severe repercussions of a total break with the trading block- and sites in Eastern Europe are already being scouted as cheap, safe alternatives to UK operations. Whether ‘soft Brexit’ would totally secure the future of UK car part manufacturing from outsourcing is unclear.
With British car exports to Europe passing 500,000, the threat of instability to the market represents powerful leverage over UK business & political leaders. Yet with 800,000 German cars imported into the UK in 2016, while the combined clout of German engineering giants such as Mercedes, Audi, BMW and Volkswagen might make ministers tremble, it seems likely any rise in tariffs would likewise hit the UK’s car imports- making ‘hard Brexit’ a threat to their trade also.
This isn’t the first time German car manufacturers have thrown their economic weight into the Brexit debate- in June similar announcements were made by the VDA.