The UK has launched a strategy for critical imports with a focus on automotive semiconductor and lithium for EV batteries and a plan for an online monitoring portal.
The UK Critical Imports and Supply Chain Strategy forms a key part of government work and follows the recent chip shortages that brought car making to a standstill across Europe. The government cites input from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) and Green Lithium to help develop resilient and secure supply chains.
Like the European supply chain monitoring system, the UK strategy will enable government to share vital information and guidance, including regular updates on emerging supply chain risks, such as new export bans on critical everyday goods imposed by other countries.
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It will include a new online portal to allow businesses to quickly report red tape or disruption affecting their critical imports. The government says it will then work to remove these barriers ‘wherever possible’.
The strategy also sets out how the UK can use the latest research to understand the impacts of shocks on supply chains, including how climate change will impact on key supply chains.
Lithium for batteries is a key part of the supply chain strategy. Two lithium producers have set up in Cornwall, and Green Lithium is building a processing plant at Teeside and has raised £4.4m through crowdfunding.
“Green Lithium is pleased to support the new Critical Imports & Supply Chains Strategy,” said Sean Sargent, chief executive of Green Lithium. “This strategy will help ensure that Green Lithium can acquire the critical minerals it requires to supply the UK’s first low-carbon lithium refinery, further advancing a UK battery supply chain and electric vehicle production.”
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“This endeavour will support the UK economy by creating sustainable employment opportunities and supply chains that are fundamental to the energy transition,” he said,
“In combination with the UK Critical Minerals Strategy and the US-UK Atlantic Declaration, we anticipate that this strategy will attract investment in the UK’s critical mining and refining industries and enhance relationships with key mining countries, including Australia, Canada and Brazil. We are grateful to all those involved in establishing this vital strategy.”
The Government also plans to attract international investment to projects like lithium mining in Cornwall to make the UK ‘more self-sufficient’ in critical goods used in industries like electric vehicles production and clean energy. British Lithium has already seen significant investment from French mining giant Imerys.
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“With our success powered by complex global supply chains, the automotive industry has been pleased to help shape a new strategy that will support manufacturing agility and responsiveness,” said Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive.
“As we accelerate production of the cleanest and greenest vehicles, and the batteries they need, such a strategy is essential and we look forward to continuing this vital engagement to boost Britain’s resilience and competitiveness – essential to the continued success of the UK as a top tier investment destination for the automotive sector.”
“There are many unpredictable events that can threaten our access to vital goods, from the pandemic, Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine, and the ongoing attacks in the Red Sea. That’s why we’re taking action to ensure crucial imports like medicines can reach consumers, no matter what happens around the world,” said UK Minister for Industry and Economic Security Nusrat Ghani.
“With this strategy we’re equipping business so they no longer have to rely on unpredictable partners for supplies of the goods that keep our country going. By making supply chains stronger we’re helping make the UK a truly safe and reliable place to do business.”
The supply chain strategy is also geared to pharmaceutical companies and logistics, including airports.
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