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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 September 2018

Japanese executives to meet Theresa May over Brexit fears

Motoring giants Toyota, Nissan and Honda are concerned about new trade barriers after the UK’s pullout from the European Union

A Nissan dealership in Sunderland where the carmaker operates Britain's biggest plant. REUTERS/Andrew Yates/File Photo
A Nissan dealership in Sunderland where the carmaker operates Britain's biggest plant. REUTERS/Andrew Yates/File Photo

Executives from Japanese carmakers based in the UK are part of a delegation meeting Theresa May on Thursday amid concerns over the impact of Brexit.

Carmakers Toyota, Nissan and Honda have invested billions in Britain since the 1980s with most cars manufactured in the UK exported to the European Union. The three manufacturers make around half of the 1.67 million cars built in the UK.

Britain’s decision to leave the world’s largest trading bloc has sent jitters through the industry because of concerns of the likely end of frictionless trade and the potential for new tariff barriers.

Estimates of the impact of non-tariff barriers are likely to increase costs to the motor industry by five to 13 per cent, according to official estimates obtained by Sky News.

Executives from the three car makers will be joined by colleagues from banking and drug companies. Nissan runs Britain's biggest car factory northeast England and said it would build new cars at the site after an apparent government promise of extra support if Brexit hit the plant’s competitiveness.

Nissan Europe’s chairman Paul Willcox will be among the attendees to “discuss our operations and investments in the UK” but said in a statement that it would not disclose details of the talks.

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At a party event last night, Mrs May talked about “constructing a completely new trading partnership with the EU” but her government has come under pressure for failing to set out what that new relationship would look like.

With the clock ticking towards the March 2019 departure date, huge questions remain about the future trading relationship the UK’s ability to strike trading deals with other countries.

She is meeting for a second day with her key Brexit committee as they thrash out their negotiating strategy.

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