When COVID meets Brexit: a crash course in crisis preparation

The UK is facing a potential double-edged sword if it exits the EU without a comprehensive trade agreement during a pandemic. Megan Lampinen looks at current preparations

Concerns are mounting for automotive players in the UK as the end of the Brexit transition period nears with no signs of progress on a comprehensive free trade agreement (FTA) with the European Union (EU). The UK government has until 31 December 2020 to hammer out a new trade deal—until then, it remains in both the EU customs union and the single market. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has warned that a zero-tariff FTA is absolutely essential if the industry is to avoid crippling production losses, pegged at £40bn (US$49.7bn) by 2025. While negotiations have slowed in the wake of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and immediate health concerns, the government is holding firm on the 31 December deadline.

“Brexit was our major worry but COVID made it secondary, which is a feat in itself,” stated SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes. Now that the immediate health concerns are abating and the economy is starting to open up, focus returns to trade….

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