The government has been repeatedly told in private that British assembled cars will not qualify as British-made for the purposes of the much-vaunted free trade deals it hopes to sign upon leaving the European Union and its customs union. The government, in speeches and through its “Automotive Council”, has repeatedly said that 44% of the value of UK cars is “local content”.This would suggest that post-Brexit, the UK is not so far away from the thresholds of 55%-60% required to qualify for tariff-free trade in a typical trade deal.But, since the beginning of the year, the car industry has explicitly told the government, including at roundtables in Downing Street in the presence of the PM, that these numbers hugely overstate the position that is relevant for trade deals under so-called “rules of origin” regulations.This means that in the absence of special content deals, the bulk of UK assembled cars would not qualify for tariff-free treatment under a typical free trade deal.The discrepancy arises because the 44% figure includes foreign parts bought from UK suppliers.The automotive industry boss Mike Hawes confirmed the calculations to Sky News, saying: “To be able to take advantage of a free trade deal generally you need… Read full this story
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