When on. But it should also be noted that

When declaring her desire to see a “bold and ambitious”
Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the United Kingdom (UK) and the European
Union (EU) in her March 2017 Article 50 letter, Prime Minister Theresa May said
that such a deal should cover “sectors crucial to our linked economies such as
financial services and network industries”. In terms of network industries, the
automotive industry is the most crucial sector that should be prioritised.


In recent years the automotive industry has been one
of the star-performers of the UK’s economy. Indeed, the Society of Motor
Manufactures and Traders (SMMT) have highlighted that this sector’s output has
increased by 60% since 2010, and has received over £8 billion worth of investment
in the last four years. Employing over 800,000 people in the UK, with some
170,000 in manufacturing roles, this upturn has benefitted regions, such as the West Midlands which
have struggled with deindustrialisation, plant closures and the legacy of the
global financial crisis. Overall, the automotive industry is a vital part of
the UK’s economy accounting for more than a £77.5 billion turnover as well as
£18.9 billion value added.

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There are many
reasons for this recent automotive industry success – the skills base,
cooperative working between unions and management, links with universities, a
supportive industrial policy and so on. But it should also be noted that a key
factor for the success has also been access to the EU Single Market. Indeed,
the industry is seen as having benefitted from EU membership, and not only in
accessing the single market, but also through the EU cutting trade deals with
the rest of the world, in the UK influencing EU regulations, and in accessing
skilled workers and European research funding and networks. Tony
Walker, the President of SMMT, explained that “we need frictionless trade. Our supply
chains are integrated with Europe and well developed over time. We can’t
disrupt them.  With with large volumes of trade not just in
final products, but also in component parts (the supply chain). For instance,
the UK imported £13.4 billion’s worth of vehicle engines and parts in 2016, 80%
of which came from the EU.