Nissan seeks compensation guarantees from Government over post-Brexit tariffs

Posted On: 
30th September 2016

Nissan has said it will delay investment decisions in the UK until the shape of the post-Brexit deal with the EU is clear – unless the Government promises compensation for potential export tariffs.

Nissan's car plant in Sunderland
Credit: 
Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

Carlos Ghosn, the car manufacturer’s chief executive, said Nissan would not commit on where to build new generations of vehicles currently made in the UK before the trade terms became clear.

He said the Nissan base in Sunderland was a “great plant”, but added that he “owed it” to shareholders not to make an announcement before the details emerged.

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“Important investment decisions will not be made in the dark,” Mr Ghosn said at the Paris Motor Show.

But he added that a Government pledge to compensate carmakers for additional economic costs of exporting to the single market could change his mind.

“If... I can’t wait until the end of Brexit, then I have to make a deal with the UK government. You can have commitments of compensation in case you have something negative.

“If there are tax barriers being established on cars, you have to have a commitment for carmakers who export to Europe that there is some kind of compensation...

“If these kinds of commitments are accepted we can go ahead.”

Nissan was one of a number of foreign investors in the UK to back remaining in the European Union.

Phil Wilson, the Labour MP for Sedgefield, where Nissan’s plant is located, urged the Government to stay part of the single market.

"Nissan's message is clear - that tariffs on exports would hammer exporters, putting growth and jobs at risk,” he said in a statement put out by the pro-EU Open Britain campaign.

"The only way for the Government to reassure business and prevent good jobs being lost is to stay in the single market, which guarantees totally free trade with our biggest market."

The Government’s plans for the UK’s future relationship with the single market have remained unclear since the referendum.

Leading EU figures have warned that tariff-free access to the European Economic Area would require the UK to accept free movement rules – something that the Prime Minister has suggested she is unwilling to agree to.

Liam Fox, the International Trade Secretary, insisted yesterday that the UK and the EU would agree terms that were “at least as free” as the existing system.