Monday, July 13, 2020

Trade Secretary Poses by New Aston Martin for Export Whilst Trouble Brewing

Leaked Brexit Letter Overshadows Luxury Vehicle Debut
Shipping News Feature

UK – Before she managed to grab the headlines at the weekend when a letter she had written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Cabinet Minister Michael Gove somehow was leaked to the press, International Trade Secretary Liz Truss was in Southampton backing one of the country's most luxurious of exports.

The visit to the Port of Southampton on Friday was a sign of how seriously the UK is taking trade with the US. A third round of trade talks is scheduled for later this month and Britain wants to persuade the US negotiators to cut import tariffs on luxury cars (amongst other things), and the visit was timed to coincide with the first luxury SUV from Aston Martin, the DBX, which will be shipped to the United States later this summer.

Hand-crafted in Aston Martin’s new state of the art factory in St Athan, South Wales which employs over 600 people, the first DBX came off the production line just the day before the visit. The cars are due to arrive at the Port of New Jersey in August, from where they will be sent to dealerships all over the US. Aston Martin is set to export 80% of its DBX cars, with the US being the largest market. The British luxury car manufacturer has already built a strong order book for the car following its unveiling last year. Liz Truss said:

“It’s great to see an iconic brand like Aston Martin showcasing the best of British design and engineering with the launch of the DBX, while creating jobs and new opportunities in Wales. The UK automotive industry is one of our great success stories, and we will continue to push for a US trade deal that removes barriers for British car manufacturers like Aston Martin.

“More trade with the US will help boost our economic recovery from coronavirus, and our Automotive Sector Deal will not only bring growth and investment to Wales, but other manufacturing hubs in the Midlands, North West and North East, creating prosperity all over the UK.”

The virus of course casts a shadow over all trade at the moment but with the automotive manufacturing sector, employing 166,000 people, and worth 8.5% of total manufacturing output, it is a subject close to the politicians hearts. Marek Reichman, Executive VP & Chief Creative Officer at Aston Martin, said:

“We are immensely proud of the DBX our first SUV, designed, developed and manufactured here in the UK by our incredibly talented team. Bringing both the versatility and indulgence expected of a luxury SUV with sports car levels of dynamic performance, DBX sets a bold new standard in this sector. At the outset we wanted to make the most beautiful SUV, that would appeal to consumers around the world and I believe we have achieved that.”

Make no mistake, the automotive sector is one of the cornerstones of UK trade with cars the largest UK goods export market to the US worth £7.5 billion annually. Aston Martin was one of the first British car manufacturers to resume production in May after closures due to coronavirus and making the various social distancing measures and the supply and use of personal protective equipment central to resuming operations.

The DBX, handcrafted in Aston Martin’s St Athan factory will be hitting the American highways by September with a ‘Made in Wales’ plaque on its door, and Secretary of State for Wales, Simon Hart, said:

“Aston Martin’s investment to create its luxury DBX crossover model in South Wales demonstrated a huge vote of confidence in our economy as well as in the skills and expertise of our workforce. This is a proud moment for the brand, Wales and the whole of the UK as the first car stamped with a ‘Made in Wales’ badge prepares to set sail for the USA later this month, marking the start of an exciting new era in our trading relations which will benefit our economy for years to come.”

Ms Truss however is likely to have made few friends in Downing Street with her criticism of the Brexit plans in which she drew attention to the fact there was a lack of clear planning showing the detail, timescales and risks. She stressed the need to ‘ensure that the UK border is effective and compliant with international rules, maintaining our credibility with trading partners, the World Trade Organization (WTO) and with business.’ Failure to do so would risks sanctions from the WTO.

Photo: Liz Truss poses by the first built Aston Martin DBX with the 24,000 TEU HMM Copenhagen in the background.