Car makers risk losing out in ‘zero-tariff’ Brexit trade deal

The EU has rejected the UK’s bid to have cars made using parts sourced from Japan and Turkey treated as British in a post-Brexit trade deal, a letter sent to UK car makers from the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator reveals.

This means that even if UK prime minister Boris Johnson renegotiates a deal with the EU, the British car industry could still face a hit because such cars might not be considered British made and therefore subject to EU tariffs. Crucially, this remains the case even if the UK government strikes a ‘zero-tariff’ deal.

In order to qualify as British made and be exported to the EU without tariffs, cars made by UK manufacturers will have to have a specified threshold of British parts, expected to be around half.

The terms of an expected deal with the EU would allow components sourced from EU countries to count as British. However, this privilege does not extend to non-EU countries such as Japan and Turkey.

According to a draft legal text seen by multiple outlets, the UK has requested that manufacturing of electric cars, batteries and bicycles be counted as British even if many of the components used to make them are sourced from elsewhere.

But in a letter to the car industry, Britain’s chief negotiator, Lord Frost, admits that Britain has so far failed to secure the car parts deal it wants and “obviously cannot insist on it”.

The consequences of this could be severe for UK car makers, particularly those that rely heavily on parts sourced from Japan and Turkey, such as Toyota and Nissan. Autocar has contacted both companies for comment.


EU automotive bodies call for urgent post-Brexit trade deal 

The car industry now: will Brexit’s impact now be even greater? 

How car firms will alter their prices post-Brexit

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