DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) - Nissan (7201.T) will review the case for future investment in Britain when the terms of the country’s departure from the European Union finally become clear, the Japanese carmaker’s Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn said on Friday.
Nissan said in October it was going ahead with plans to build the next X-Trail and Qashqai SUVs at its plant in Sunderland, northeast England, after obtaining written government assurances that Brexit would not be allowed to harm the site’s export competitiveness.
The decision was hailed by Prime Minister Theresa May’s government as evidence that the threat of new EU trade tariffs would not significantly damage investment in Britain.
Speaking in Davos, however, Ghosn said Nissan would re-examine the group’s investment strategy once the terms of Brexit become clear. The UK government has said it will trigger the two-year process for exiting the EU by the end of March.
“Obviously when the package comes, you are going to have to re-evaluate the situation, and say, okay, is the competitiveness of your plant preserved or not?” he told reporters.
Ghosn, who also heads Nissan’s alliance partner Renault (RENA.PA), said he trusted and assumed that May’s government would ensure that Sunderland remained competitive whatever the final outcome of Brexit talks.
He added: “We’re going to have to make decisions on investment within the next two to three years. So obviously the faster the Brexit results come, the better.”
May’s Conservative government has steadfastly rejected opposition demands that it publish the “letter of comfort” written to Ghosn by Business Secretary Greg Clark and first reported by Reuters on Oct. 27.
Reporting by Quentin Webb; Writing by Laurence Frost; Editing by Mark Potter