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China gears up in UK auto sector

By DU XIAOYING in London | China Daily | Updated: 2017-08-01 08:12

China was the UK auto industry's third biggest trading partner in the first half of this year, according to figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

Almost 48,000 Chinese buyers chose one of the UK's premium and luxury cars during the six-month period, accounting for 7 percent of all UK auto exports, the SMMT said on Thursday.

But sales in China fell 6.4 percent overall as the automotive sector adjusted to changes in regulation governing new car imports and British firms based some production in China.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of SMMT, said China-based production of British auto brands, and new regulations are reasons leading to the export drop.

"First of all, it's been UK car manufacturer investing in China. I think Jaguar or Land Rover opened its plants in China," Hawes said. "It's expanding production and that's taken some of the export from its UK plants and based them in China."

Hawes said China remains "a vitally important partner for the UK", with both investing significantly in each other's land.

"Strengthening this relationship through mutually beneficial trade agreements has the potential to unlock huge opportunities for our respective industries and economies," he said.

In total, UK car production fell by 2.9 percent in the first half, with 866,656 cars rolling off production lines, the SMMT said.

There was a 13.7 percent drop in the number of cars being built last month due to concerns over the impact of the UK's impending departure from the European Union upon business-the third month in a row that UK's output has fallen.

The EU remained the UK's biggest trading partner, accounting for more than half-or 54.6 percent-of all cars produced for export.

The auto industry has called on the UK government to outline its Brexit plans and ensure barrier free trade with the EU.

The SMMT figures were released the day after the British government announced its plan to ban the sale of new diesel and petrol cars by 2040 to encourage people to buy electric vehicles.

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