UK should ‘get real’ over tariff threat to car industry, minister says

31 January 2017 9:55am

6 July 2016. By Lewis Crofts.

Multinational carmakers such as Nissan and Honda face 10 percent tariffs on vehicles if the UK fails to negotiate tariff-free access to EU markets following Brexit, a UK minister has warned.

Anna Soubry told lawmakers to “get real” over the threat, warning that manufacturers will relocate to within the EU’s borders.

Soubry, a Conservative politician and minister for small businesses, was addressing lawmakers in a UK parliamentary committee looking into the plight of the steel industry.

While steel manufacturers face increased competition from Chinese imports, they are also concerned that purchasers such as Nissan, Honda and Jaguar Land Rover may move abroad following the UK vote last month to leave the EU.

Outside the EU’s free trade area, global rules on tariffs would apply. These are about 10 percent, Soubry said.

“Get real. Get real,” she said. “If you are some multinational company, you are not going to make [cars] in Britain, if you can make [them] in Europe free of tariffs.”

The minister told lawmakers they should be “under no illusions” about the potential impact on the industry, given the “huge amount of exports.” For Nissan, she said exports from UK plants were about 70 percent of volume, while for Honda “it may be higher.”

For Jaguar Land Rover, she predicted the impact may be smaller.

Soubry promised to “fight like a tiger” to protect the industry’s interests.

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