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Business secretary's Brexit promises to Nissan

Carlos Ghosn, former Nissan chairman

Business secretary Greg Clark has outlined four promises made to Nissan’s executive committee ahead of last week’s announcement that the brand would continue its investment in UK manufacturing.

Appearing on the Andrew Marr Show, Clark said that the government had pledged to provide funding for training and skills, to boost UK research into electric cars, increase the use of British companies and seek tariff-free access to the EU automotive market.

Clark said: “The automotive sector is one of our great strengths. We want to see the whole industry prosper.”

The FT reported that other industries are now voicing their own demands for assurances from the government over the potential impact of Brexit, but what about the UK’s franchised retailers?

In the latest edition of AM, however, editor Tim Rose stated that the franchised dealer network must find its voice in the post-Brexit negotiations.

He said: “The BBC pointed out that Nissan Sunderland employs 6,700 people. However, the dealer groups in the AM100 employ 112,099 people between them, almost 12 times as many as Nissan.

“Shouldn’t franchised dealers also be able to bend the ear of the cabinet?”

The business secretary’s comments follow Nissan’s announcement last week that, following its executive committee meeting, it will produce the next Qashqai and will add production of the next X-Trail model at its Sunderland plant.

The manufacturer’s decision followed talks with Prime Minister Theresa May in which the UK government voiced a commitment to ensure that the Sunderland plant “remains competitive”, it said.

As a result, Nissan will increase its investment in Sunderland, securing and sustaining the jobs of more than 7,000 workers at the plant.

Carlos Ghosn, chairman and chief executive of Nissan, said: “The support and assurances of the UK government enabled us to decide that the next-generation Qashqai and X-Trail will be produced at Sunderland.

“I welcome British Prime Minister Theresa May’s commitment to the automotive industry in Britain and to the development of an overall industrial strategy.”

The measure has led to other UK-based manufacturers, including Jaguar Land Rover and Ford, calling for similar talks and reassurances, however.

Last month Jaguar Land Rover chief executive Ralf Speth told Reuters that JLR would want a level playing field if Nissan was offered a compensation deal.

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