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Vehicles remain UK’s single most valuable goods trade export, SMMT report finds

  • SMMT report finds vehicles remain the UK’s single most valuable goods trade export
  • Vehicle export revenues reached £27bn in 2020
  • Data shows automotive sector as a whole generated a total trade revenue of £74bn

Time 2 weeks ago

Vehicles remain the UK’s single most valuable goods trade export, a new study by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has shown.

Research by the body found that vehicle export revenues reached £27bn in 2020, making them more valuable to the UK than power-generating machinery and gold.

The automotive sector as a whole generated a total trade revenue of £74bn with more than 80 per cent of British-built cars and more than 60 per cent of light commercial vehicles destined for export.


With the global car market expected to grow significantly in regions such as Asia and Eastern Europe, the SMMT is calling for the automotive sector to be put at the heart of any future trade talks.

The body wants the government to fight dedicated automotive annexes and provisions to reduce tariffs and regulatory barriers.

It also recommends establishing Rules of Origin that will reflect the UK’s future supplier base as manufacturing moves away from the combustion engine, as well as ensuring manufacturers have the ability to recruit top talent from around the world to drive growth.

The trade body launched its ‘Driving Global Britainproject during its inaugural Global Trade Conference yesterday.


It also highlights the importance of trade with the EU as around half of all cars made in Britain are exported to EU member states.

Elsewhere, almost all vans exported by the UK end up on European roads.

Mike Hawes, the SMMT’s chief executive, said: ‘As the world re-emerges from the pandemic, the diversity and importance of Britain’s automotive industry is the UK’s competitive advantage for restarting growth, creating jobs and tackling climate change.

‘With automotive at the heart of future trade policy, and negotiations focused on removing both the tariff and non-tariff barriers that stifle growth, we can drive forward the growth of Global Britain and sustain our place as an economic, industrial and environmental leader.’

Jack Williams's avatar

Jack joined the Car Dealer team in 2021 as a staff writer. He previously worked as a national newspaper journalist for BNPS Press Agency. He has provided news and motoring stories for a number of national publications including The Sun, The Times and The Daily Mirror.

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