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Small print in trade deal could boost jobs - mayor

14 January 2021

West Midlands mayor Andy Street claims the UK’s new EU trade deal could provide a major boost to industry in the region – by encouraging car makers to use more British-made parts.

Mr Street (pictured) says new ‘Rules of Origin’ included in the agreement mean products built in the UK will have to have a minimum amount of their parts made here - or in the EU - to count as British when it comes to exporting.

And he believes that offers a huge opportunity to expand the local supply chain for our biggest manufacturing industry.

Mr Street said: “As in many manufacturing sectors, in recent decades much of our automotive supply chain has, regrettably, moved from the West Midlands to Asia and the rest of the world, taking with it quality jobs.

“Now, as a result of the EU trade deal, the automotive industry and others has a driving imperative to source more parts and components from the UK – or face tariffs that will make its exports uncompetitive in our biggest trading partner.

“This amounts to a big opportunity for the West Midlands in the small print of the EU trade deal.

“The threshold for British-made parts starts at 40% but will rapidly reach 55% as a minimum – creating huge scope and opportunity to rebuild and expand our automotive supply chain.”

As home to the UK’s biggest cluster of automotive businesses, Mr Street says the region already has a significant supply chain built around car making.

However, he said the new ‘Rules of Origin’ could create more jobs.

“We are well placed to take advantage of the trade deal and grow this eco system of suppliers,” he said.

“While the days when almost every car part was made locally are a distant memory, we now have a real chance to bring some of these jobs and plants back from Asia to the West Midlands.”

The mayor has been campaigning for a Gigafactory to be built in the West Midlands, to produce the batteries needed to the new era of electric motoring.

He said: “The highest value parts in any electric car will be the batteries that power it. So, ensuring our own ability to build these car batteries at scale in this country is critical. That means Gigafactories, like the one built by Tesla in Nevada.

“The Government has recognised this by allocating £500m towards this technology. Here, in the West Midlands, £108million has already been invested in a state-of-the-art Battery Industrialisation Centre in Coventry.

“A Gigafactory, and the supply chain that would gravitate around it, will make a huge contribution to meeting the need for British-built parts in our cars. It will be vital not just future jobs, but for keeping the ones we have.”

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