Aston Martin trade deal ‘should sound warning bell’ to local supply chain

Aston Martin concludes Japanese trade deal

A Midlands academic has said Aston Martin’s new £500m trade deal with Japan is “unambiguously good news” for the region – but has warned that a clause restricting the company to importing £70m of Japanese components could spell future problems for the local supply chain.

The deal will see Aston Martin export more than £400m of cars to Japan, in what is hailed as a boost for both its main plant in Gaydon and the new plant in Wales manufacturing the company’s first ever crossover SUV.

Nigel Driffield, of Warwick Business School, is Professor of International Business and was part of the Executive for the Greater Birmingham Project with the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership. He is also Deputy Pro Vice Chancellor for Regional Engagement and has researched the effect of Brexit on the UK’s inward investment.

He said: “This deal is further evidence of the success of this global brand, and the increased dynamism at Aston Martin under its present leadership.

“With a strong UK production base, this type of investment abroad, designed to support exports rather than support foreign production is unambiguously good news for its local workforce in the UK. It shows continued growth in demand for high value UK exports, something that the UK government needs to support post Brexit.

“However, tied in to the announcement is evidence of the continued need for Aston Martin to source components from abroad. This, one would hope, would be food for thought among those seeking to deliver the Government’s industrial strategy in the region.”

He said the fact that components for an iconic brand such as Aston Martin still needed to be sourced from overseas highlighted the need for the automotive industry to focus, not just on the famous brands, but on further developing the supply base locally, with an emphasis on skills, innovation and inward investment as well as exports.