BMW: Mini output will still be disrupted if Brexit delayed

BMW made 234,183 cars in Britain last year, out of the country’s total production of about 1.5 million. (AFP)
Updated 05 March 2019

BMW: Mini output will still be disrupted if Brexit delayed

  • Britain’s car industry employs around 850,000 people and is largely owned by foreign manufacturers
  • While carmakers are keen to avoid a no-deal Brexit, they also do not want the process to drag on

GENEVA: Production of BMW’s Mini will still be disrupted if there is a delay to Brexit, the carmaker’s CEO said on Tuesday, signaling the auto industry faces upheaval even if Britain avoids crashing out of the European Union without a withdrawal deal on March 29.
Britain’s car industry, which employs around 850,000 people and is largely owned by foreign manufacturers, has been rushing through plans to cope with the potential disruption of a no-deal Brexit, such as building up inventories and in some cases organizing plant closures around Brexit day.
However, Prime Minister Theresa May said last week that if UK lawmakers once again rejected her Brexit deal, she would offer them a series of votes that could lead her to ask Brussels for a delay.
BMW said in September it was moving the annual maintenance shutdown for its Mini plant in Oxford, southern England, to April in case of disruption caused by Brexit.
“We have made preparations. If Brexit is delayed, we can postpone some measures, but the early summer break remains scheduled for April,” CEO Harald Krueger said at the Geneva car show on Tuesday.
Shutdowns and stockpiles take time and money to arrange, as for example employee holidays and suppliers are affected, making them hard to move.
And so, while carmakers are keen to avoid a no-deal Brexit, they also do not want the process to drag on.
BMW made 234,183 cars in Britain last year, out of the country’s total production of about 1.5 million.
just like to get certainty as quickly as possible,” Johan van Zyl, president and CEO of Toyota Europe said at an event late Monday, echoing recent comments from UK luxury sports car maker Aston Martin.
Zyl said Brexit planning had come at a “huge cost” and warned Britain needed to secure a frictionless trade deal with the EU.
“If anything happens between the EU and UK that will have a negative impact on competitiveness of the UK operations, it will put the future in doubt,” he said, referring to the entire UK car industry.
Japan’s Toyota made 129,070 cars at its Burnaston plant in central England in 2018 and is currently ramping up production of its new Corolla model.
Carlos Tavares, CEO of Peugeot and Citroen maker PSA Group, was more relaxed about a potential Brexit delay, saying he was in favor if the time was used to find a deal.
Daimler boss Dieter Zetsche, meanwhile, was hopeful a deal could be reached.
“It’s a game of poker. I am an optimistic person, and I hope that a no-deal Brexit is not realistic,” he said.


Analysts urge Canada to focus on boosting the economy

Updated 06 July 2020

Analysts urge Canada to focus on boosting the economy

  • Canada lost one of its coveted triple-A ratings in June when Fitch downgraded it for the first time

TORONTO: Canada should focus on boosting economic growth after getting pummeled by the COVID-19 crisis, analysts say, even as concerns about the sustainability of its debt are growing, with Fitch downgrading the nation’s rating just over a week ago.

Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau will deliver a “fiscal snapshot” on Wednesday that will outline the current balance sheet and may give an idea of the money the government is setting aside for the future.

As the economy recovers, some fiscal support measures, which are expected to boost the budget deficit sharply, could be wound down and replaced by incentives meant to get people back to work and measures to boost economic growth, economists said.

“The only solution to these large deficits is growth, so we need a transition to a pro-growth agenda,” said Craig Wright, chief economist at Royal Bank of Canada. The IMF expects Canada’s economy to contract by 8.4 percent this year. Ottawa is already rolling out more than C$150 billion in direct economic aid, including payments to workers impacted by COVID-19.

Further stimulus measures could include a green growth strategy, as well as spending on infrastructure, including smart infrastructure, economists said. Smart infrastructure makes use of digital technology.

“We have to make sure that government spending is calibrated to the economy of the future rather than the economy of the past,” Wright said.

Canada lost one of its coveted triple-A ratings in June when Fitch downgraded it for the first time, citing the billions of dollars in emergency aid Ottawa has spent to help bridge the downturn caused by COVID-19 shutdowns.

Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s and DBRS still give Canadian debt the highest rating. At DBRS, Michael Heydt, the lead sovereign analyst on Canada, says his concern is about potential structural damage to the economy if the slowdown lingers too long.

Fiscal policymakers “need to be confident that there is a recovery underway before they start talking about (debt) consolidation,” Heydt said.

Fitch expects Canada’s total government debt will rise to 115.1 percent of GDP in 2020 from 88.3 percent in 2019.

Royce Mendes, a senior economist at CIBC Capital Markets, said the economy still needs more support.

“Turning too quickly toward austerity would be a clear mistake,” he said.