Press Releases

Wissmann: Business and consumers benefit from free trade

Berlin, 15 June 2013

“A free trade zone between the United States and the EU offers considerable opportunities for the automotive industry, because although the American and European markets account for around 40 per cent of all vehicle sales world-wide, import barriers still exist between two economic areas. German automotive OEMs alone pay about one billion euro in import duties every year. Around 100 million euro is paid annually on imports of motor vehicle parts from Germany to the USA,” said Matthias Wissmann, President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA). He was commenting on today’s decision by European Union trade ministers to open negotiations on a free trade agreement with the USA.

The USA is the destination for 15 per cent of German passenger car exports, which makes it the second most important export partner for the German manufacturers. And in terms of export value, the USA actually comes in first place.

Just reducing import duties could markedly boost growth on both sides of the Atlantic, the VDA president explained. “Furthermore, the negotiators should also put all their effort into eliminating non-tariff trade barriers such as different technical regulations and standards. It is incomprehensible why automotive producers have to develop and manufacture different exterior mirrors, indicators or bumpers for Europe and the USA. Mutual recognition or harmonisation of such requirements would benefit companies on both sides of the Atlantic.”

Reduction of non-tariff trade barriers could lead to total annual savings running to billions in the automotive industry, Wissmann explained, adding that this would also benefit consumers. “Firstly, it would bring down the costs of a car to the customers and, secondly, the products will be available faster because simplified approval processes will allow them onto the market earlier,” he said. “Particular potential exists wherever standards are defined from scratch, such as in the case of electric mobility. We should shape these rules jointly from the outset.”

The VDA president stressed that the discussions should now commence as soon as possible, because an agreement of this type would unleash economic potentials on both continents. “Policy-makers should utilise this opportunity. A transatlantic market without borders and with common standards would provide impetus for the global economy, for sustainable growth, more innovations and less protectionism,” Wissmann stated.

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