Car industry giant Slovakia is showcasing itself as a global centre for auto assembly during its EU presidency amidst warnings by foreign car firms they may leave the UK in the event of a hard Brexit.
Slovakia is a global centre for auto assembly, a former Cold War powerhouse for tank-building turned home to major plants for South Korea’s Kia, Germany’s Volkswagen and France’s PSA.
Last week, Nissan’s CEO Carlos Ghosn held a meeting with UK Prime Minister Theresa May where he expressed fears for tariffs on cars in a post-Brexit EU. Nissan employs around 8,000 workers at its Sunderland plant, with a further 32,000 jobs dependent on it in the supply chain.
At an economic conference in Bratislava last week, organised by the ministries of economy and foreign affairs, and the Belgian think tank CIDIC, the country was showcasing itself as a centre for inward investment of the car assembly industry.
“In Slovakia, 25% of GDP comes directly from the automotive industry,” Dusan Jurik of the Ministry of Economy told investors.
According to Slovak officials, that is the highest GDP per capita figure in the world for the auto industry.
Slovakia is already home to KIA motors (an offshoot of South Korea’s Hyundai), and Volkswagen, and PSA/Citreon.
Some 80,000 people are directly employed by VW, Kia and PSA, with another 200,000 indirectly in work in the supply chain.
In December, before the Brexit referendum, UK manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover announced a €1.5bn investment plan to build a new plant in Nitra, western Slovakia, pushing out around 150,000 vehicles a year and employing 2,800 workers directly, with around five times that figure further down the line in the supply chain.
Slovakia owes its dominance – along with the Czech Republic – in the auto industry manufacturing and engineering sector to its Cold War history, when the former Czechoslovakia was a major centre for tanks and heavy armoured vehicles.
Now it is keen to push home that advantage as Nissan, and others, ponder the future of car manufacture in UK in the light of the Brexit threat to access to the free market, the customs union, and possible tariffs.
Read full article by Matthew Tempest, Euroactiv.com