Peoples Digest Online – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for U.K. and European negotiators to provide predictability to businesses over Brexit as British automaker Aston Martin said uncertainty could affect investments.
Abe said he’s “convinced” Britain will remain a “compelling” place for Japanese companies to do business after Brexit, pointing to investments since the referendum last year as testament to their expectations. Brexit “has to be successful for the U.K., European Union and global economy,” he said, speaking at a Japan-U.K. business forum in Tokyo alongside Prime Minister Theresa May.
“From the U.K. in the EU exit negotiation, there has to be transparency and predictability to minimize any damage on businesses,” Abe told an audience of executives. “We have received that commitment and we value this greatly.”
His comments reflect the concerns of the more than 1,000 Japanese companies that employ about 160,000 people in Britain, including Nissan Motor Co Ltd. and Hitachi Ltd. The U.K. government has already given reassurances to the former to keep factories in the country.
The auto industry remains nervous about Britain leaving the European Union, Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer told reporters in Tokyo, warning that executives are considering holding back investment until there’s more certainty on the direction of Brexit.
“In my world when you decide to design a new car, it takes four years and will probably cost you a billion dollars,” he said. “Those are big bets you have to put down and if you don’t know what your sales environment, or your manufacturing environment is going to be like in four years, you can either hesitate to make the investment or you can make the investment with a certain degree of risk.”
Getting to a position where Britain and the EU have agreed not to impose tariffs “will be a big breakthrough,” he added.
That breakthrough may not come anytime soon, with Brexit talks deadlocked as the latest round of discussions draws to a close. The chances of the U.K. being allowed to move onto trade negotiations in October are increasingly slim, according to the European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt.