The European Court of Justice’s (ECJ) judgement that the European Union’s anti-dumping and anti-subsidy tariffs should be annulled has been welcomed by many of those responsible for distributing these products across the continent. Yet for importers of these products in post-Brexit United Kingdom, the truck tyre tariffs introduced by the European Commission appear to be persisting. Speaking to representatives of the Imported Tyre Manufacturers’ Association (ITMA), the association whose members are most directly concerned with these tariffs, Tyres & Accessories now understands that the UK’s Trade Remedies Authority (TRA) does not intend to annul the tariffs since the ECJ’s judgement does not apply legally in the UK, even considering the view that the tariffs were implemented improperly under EC law. It follows that the status quo on these tariffs will be maintained, at least until the TRA reaches tyres in its review of the lengthy list of trade remedies inherited from the UK’s time as a member of the EU. Until such a review takes place, the tariffs will continue to apply until at least November 2023, and UK importers are effectively blocked from joining European colleagues in ending and recouping duties found to be improperly implemented.
UK car production fell 41.5 per cent in September, the third consecutive month of decline, with 67,169 cars manufactured – the worst performing September since 1982 – according to the latest figures released this week by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
The National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) has established NFDA Northern Ireland (NFDA NI). “The ongoing issues facing automotive retailers in Northern Ireland mean we must continue to increase our lobbying efforts to ensure the voice of the franchised vehicle dealer is heard, NFDA NI will represent the platform our industry needs to best represent dealers in Northern Ireland”, said Sue Robinson, chief executive of the NFDA.
Despite some businesses being forced to lock their doors, garage equipment and testing equipment supplier MAHA remained open in-line with lockdown rules and while admitting the early stages of the pandemic caused uncertainty, the managing director of the UK subsidiary of the German-based company, Neil Ebbs, said trading figures had “exceeded expectations”.
Auto electrical specialist WAI has extended its UK warehouse by a massive 40 per cent, as the business boosts its stockholding for UK customers. The extension, at WAI’s Bognor Regis UK headquarters, will see more racking and a greater investment in UK logistics, as the brand continues to prove popular among motor factors and workshops.
Test specialist Horiba Mira expects the new ‘rules of origin’ clause will drive a surge in demand for development and testing of EV battery packs.
It comes as last month Aston Martin boss and Nissan planning chief Dr Andy Palmer issued a warning to the UK government that the Brexit trade deal, alongside ambitious plans to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030, presents a risk of “crippling tariffs” for the UK automotive industry unless the sector invests heavily in domestic battery production for electric vehicles.
To mark the UK’s exit from the EU, the EU flag has been removed from all UK driving licences and number plate designs, with the first batches issued from 1 January 2021. While existing licences and number plates will still be valid, the new versions will be issued to everyone renewing a licence or getting one for the first time.
The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has reported that exports to the EU going through British ports in January fell by 68 per cent compared to the same month last year. An article in the Observer newspaper said that the fall was mostly down to problems caused by Brexit.
The effects of the coronavirus and Brexit have led to an increasingly severe shipping bottleneck. The inevitable result of all of these factors is price increases. Tyres & Accessories spoke with Micheldever Tyre Services (MTS) wholesale director Graham Mitchell in order to find out more about what this means for the tyre retail sector.
Getting right to the point, are prices going to go up in 2021? “Undoubtedly,” was Mitchell’s immediate and definite response, with the wholesale director pointing to the three main factors behind the current and forthcoming price hikes as well as the different variables associated with each: “Containerised cost of product coming out of the far east…that’s not doubled, that’s quadrupled…a significant on-cost not to be underplayed…and then you’ve got a currency element that’s forcing manufacturing costs up as well.” The good news is that wholesale sources are confident that the containerised element is temporary, but the same cannot be said about other factors.
The latest temporary closure of Honda’s Swindon plant because of parts shortages could be the “tip of the iceberg” for new car supply issues in 2021, the Vehicle Remarketing Association is warning. Chair Philip Nothard said that the problem, believed to be caused by poor availability of semiconductors, was potentially a sign of things to come from all manufacturers.
Just before Christmas, the UK Government and the EU announced that they had thrashed out a no-tariff trade deal. Negotiations went down to the wire, but, a mere four and a half years after the UK voting to leave the EU, agreement was approved by both sides.
Back in April, Tyres & Accessories spoke to leading supplier of freight forwarding services to the UK tyre sector, Maritime Cargo Services about the perfect storm of circumstances complicating life for tyre importers. Then it was difficult to anticipate the logistical problems the industry would face by the end of the first quarter – at least far enough ahead to sidestep the issues entirely. Even armed with the expectation of disruption, the pressure has built at British ports throughout the year, especially in the last quarter as Covid began to spike again. As a result, Honda UK’s suspension of production became a high-profile symptom of the catalogue of issues causing bottlenecking and ultimately delays in the supply chain. With the end of the Brexit transition coming amidst the second spike of Covid-19 transmissions on 31 December, T&A asked MCS again about what difficulties distribution businesses need to plan for this winter.
BM Catalysts, Europe’s largest independent manufacturer of high-quality aftermarket catalytic converters, DPFs and front pipes, has launched a Brexit resource via its website https://www.bmcatalysts.co.uk/brexit/ providing practical help, relevant information, and useful resources to help and reassure customers.
After weeks and months of mounting pressure on UK ports, the automotive industry is showing visible signs of strain. Specifically, Honda UK has halted manufacturing at its Swindon factory because it can’t get the right parts in-time to continue production. General UK tyre supply is likely to be impacted too.