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Car makers demand smooth trade links ‘closer to home’ after Australia agreement

Car makers have called for smooth links “closer to home” following the UK’s free trade deal with Australia.

Figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show the UK sold 20,000 cars to Australia in 2019, compared with 578,000 to the EU.

A Downing Street statement claimed the agreement with Australia means car makers in the Midlands and northern England will see “tariffs of up to 5% cut, boosting demand for their exports”.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “Australia is an important growth market and the industry welcomes the agreement in principle of a trade deal between the two countries.

“If tariffs can be avoided, making UK manufacturers more competitive against international rivals, there is some potential to increase our vehicle exports and we look forward to seeing the finer details of the deal, to ensure the agreement delivers for the automotive sector.

“Given the integrated nature of the automotive industry, however, and the importance of proximity, we must also ensure smooth trade with markets closer to home.”

The end of the Brexit transition period on December 31 last year saw the UK’s membership of the EU single market and customs union expire.

Four out of every five cars made in the UK are exported.