LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's automotive industry on Wednesday launched a "Brexit Readiness Programme" to help safeguard its supply chain in the event of a "no deal" exit from the European Union.
Carmakers are worried that port and motorway hold-ups could slow the movement of components and finished models, crippling output and adding costs, if Britain fails to reach agreement with the European Union over its departure from the bloc on March 29.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), the UK industry's trade body, said its programme highlighted "a contingency planning minefield", with changes to regulations, onerous customs processes, tariffs and restricted access to talent among the challenges facing the sector in a "no deal" scenario.
The SMMT said its programme was particularly aimed at providing support for small and medium sized companies (SMEs), who make-up the vast majority of Britain's automotive supply chain.
Phase one of the readiness programme will see legal and accountancy firms offer advice and consultancy services on trade and tax arrangements outside of the EU, customs procedures and adapting to regulation changes from chemicals to data protection, employment law and immigration.
"A ‘no-deal’ Brexit could have devastating consequences. With the clock ticking on negotiations, businesses must plan for all eventualities, including the worst," said SMMT CEO Mike Hawes.
(Reporting by James Davey. Editing by Jane Merriman)