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Ford backs PM May's Brexit plan to avoid no-deal 'catastrophe'

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Ford backs PM May's Brexit plan to avoid no-deal 'catastrophe'
FILE PHOTO: The Ford logo at the New York Auto Show in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., March 29, 2018. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/File Photo   -   Copyright  Shannon Stapleton(Reuters)
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LONDON (Reuters) – Ford <F.N> warned that Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit agreement should be backed to avoid a no deal “catastrophe” but said that a guarantee on long-term frictionless trade, which is key to the future of its British plants, is not clear enough.

Ford Europe boss Steven Armstrong told Reuters the company is considering importing more cars into Britain ahead of time to avoid any disruption if there is no deal, is working with suppliers to minimise delays and is re-examining infrastructure at its own Dagenham port.

Britain is due to leave the world’s largest free trade bloc on March 29 but there are concerns over what happens if parliamentarians vote down May’s proposed deal next month, including possible snarl-ups at ports and motorways which would disrupt manufacturers.

Armstrong said May’s deal with Brussels “isn’t perfect” but allows the firm to plan.

“A no deal Brexit would be a catastrophe … It’s important that we get the agreement ratified that’s on the table at the moment,” he said.

Manufacturers are also seeking a guarantee of free-flowing trade to avoid delays and extra customs checks at ports when future trading rules kick in after a transition period, which is due to end in 2020.

“I keep pushing the point that we need frictionless trade at the borders as well,” Armstrong said. “That’s not quite crystal clear in the withdrawal agreement.”

(Reporting by Costas Pitas, editing by Stephen Addison)

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