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Nissan pressures Blair on eurozone

Nissan could receive a Government aid package if it agrees to build the Almera replacement at its factory in Sunderland rather than move production into the eurozone.

A spokesman for the motor manufacturing facility told AM discussions would be taking place with the Department of Trade and Industry in a bid to keep the replacement for the family hatchback at the factory. Nissan chief executive Carlos Ghosn's last week warned again that he would move production unless the Government clearly signalled its intention to join the euro.

“If the signs are clear and reassuring, we will reinvest in Sunderland. If there are too many risks we will go elsewhere,” he says. “We want our main cost base in Europe to be in the same currency as our receipts.” More than 86,500 Almeras were produced last year at the factory, which reached record production levels of 332,000 units.

One senior civil servant close to the Department of Trade and Industry told AM that Ghosn and PM Tony Blair had been in contact over the issue of Sunderland investment and Labour plans to join the euro.

Stories suggest Blair has already decided to push for euro membership immediately after the next election – so Ghosn's warning could be timed to support that push. A decision will be made next year.

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