Nissan boss backs post-Brexit Britain after top-level talks

Nissan's Ghosn leaves 10 Downing Street after meeting Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May in London, Britain, Oct 14, 2016.
Nissan's Ghosn leaves 10 Downing Street after meeting Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May in London, Britain, Oct 14, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - The boss of Renault-Nissan declared on Friday (Oct 14) that post-Brexit Britain will remain a "competitive place to do business" after holding crunch talks with Prime Minister Theresa May.

Carlos Ghosn had warned last month the carmaker needed guarantees from London over the potential impact of Brexit before it could commit to further investment to its car plant in the northeastern English city of Sunderland.

"Following our productive meeting, I am confident the government will continue to ensure the UK remains a competitive place to do business," Ghosn said in a statement after meeting May at her official residence at 10 Downing Street.

"I look forward to continued positive collaboration between Nissan and the UK Government," added the chairman and chief executive officer of the Renault-Nissan alliance, without specifying what was discussed.

The car chief said he held a "positive meeting" with the prime minister and key members of her Conservative government.

Nissan operates Britain's biggest car factory in Sunderland, which has around 7,000 employees, making it the group's largest facility in Europe.

Sunderland makes Nissan's Juke, Qashqai and Leaf car models, with around 500,000 cars rolling off the production line every year. Some 80 per cent of the plant's daily output of 2,000 cars are exported to 130 nations around the world.

"We want to ensure that this high-performing, high-employment factory remains competitive globally and continues to deliver for our business and for Britain," said Ghosn on Friday.

The carmaker added it had maintained a dialogue with May since her appointment in the wake of the shock EU exit referendum on June 23.

Ghosn had warned in July that he was worried not by Brexit itself, but by the uncertainties that Britain's EU departure would create.

"If I need to make an investment in the next few months, I cannot wait until the end of the Brexit," he said last month on the sidelines of the Paris Car Show.

"I'm going to have to make a deal with the UK government," Ghosn had said, adding that he would be looking for compensation if his company's tax regime became less favourable or cross-border duties had to be paid once Britain left the European Union.