Brexit: Steve Barclay says government will ‘defend the UK’
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The UK and EU member states are still adjusting to the new London-Brussels relationship after the Brexit trade deal came into force. This has been seen in Germany, as exports from the country to the UK fell by almost a third in the first month under post-Brexit trading arrangements, new figures revealed. Germany’s official statistics body said the end of the Brexit transition period was responsible for a 30 percent year-on-year plunge in exports to the UK in January but economists predicted the trade slump will ease. The plunge in German imports at the start of the UK’s life outside the EU was also worsened by many businesses stockpiling in December as Brexit talks went down to the wire.
Bert Colijn, eurozone economist at ING, said this week: “We expected very weak eurozone exports to the UK for January, in part due to teething problems at the border, but also due to the fact that hoarding had already fulfilled a lot of British demand for European goods.
“We see a very strong surge in eurozone exports ahead of Jan 1, which confirms that picture.”
He added however that “expectations are that longer term trade is weaker than it would have been without Brexit”.
The automotive industry in both the EU and UK shared concerns over its future as a result of Brexit.
But Nissan’s chief operating officer Ashwani Gupta told the Telegraph last month that Brexit will be positive for the company.
He said: “Brexit for Nissan is a positive. We’ll take this opportunity to redefine the auto industry in the UK.
“In certain circumstances, our competitiveness is improved (by Brexit). For some of the cases, it is par. It depends on which car, but competitiveness is definitely improved in electric vehicles.”
Nissan said that it might double production to up to 700,000 cars and SUVs a year in its Sunderland factory and that Brexit could be a big boost for its electric vehicles.
The news came after speculation that Nissan could follow Honda out of the UK after Brexit.
Despite Nissan’s optimism, Professor Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, director of the Centre for Automotive Research in Duisburg, Germany has predicted the long-term decline of the British auto industry.
He said: “It sounds more like wishful thinking than reality. What we see is that Sunderland and other car manufacturing sites will be threatened by higher logistic cost and difficulties.
“And just to concentrate on U.K.-car market will not be sufficient for scale-economies in car manufacturing.
“Possibly it´s going more to CKD (making cars with components supplied by others) and other things. So Brexit is a real mess for the British car industry and also for Nissan in my point of view.”
David Leggett, automotive analyst at data and analytics company GlobalData, disagreed.
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He argued that the UK could target electric cars to maintain its prominence in the automotive industry.
He told Forbes: “As the auto industry shifts towards a more electrified future – highlighted by the UK government’s intention to ban the sale of combustion engine cars from 2030 – attracting investment in electrified technologies and electric vehicle manufacturing is going to be increasingly important.
“Brexit and associated supply chain issues are far from fully resolved for many companies in the sector, but commitment from a major manufacturer to invest in the UK will lift confidence in the future for the UK’s automotive industry.”
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