May to tell Japanese firms she wants EU deal as soon as possible
Theresa May will tell Japanese investors in Britain that she wants a Brexit transition deal as soon as possible, her spokesman told reporters.
The prime minister and Chancellor Philip Hammond are due to meet Japanese companies, including the three big carmakers, later on Thursday.
The plan for a meeting was first raised when Theresa May visited Japan last year.
But it comes amid fresh debate among business over Brexit negotiations.
The prime minister’s spokesman said: “We’ve been clear about the sort of deal that we want to secure and that we want trade which is as frictionless as possible.
“I am sure the PM will be reiterating that when she meets the companies today and also the commitment to securing the implementation period as soon as possible to give them a period of time to adjust.”
Carmakers Nissan, Toyota and Honda were due to attend the talks, along with representatives from banks and drug companies.
Japanese firms have spent billions of pounds in Britain over the past decades, encouraged to set up in the country by successive governments promising a business-friendly base from which to trade across the continent.
Nissan, Toyota and Honda began their UK operations in Britain in the 1980s and now build nearly half of all of Britain’s 1.67 million cars. The big majority of these are exported.
The motor industry has expressed concern that their exports could face tariffs of up to 10% and be subject to customs delays after Britain leaves the European Union.
Japanese drug companies have also made Britain their European base. Some are concerned about future drug regulations, with any divergence with the EU likely to pose regulatory challenges.
London is also home to Japanese banks, such as Nomura, Daiwa Securities and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial. Like other foreign banks, they are keen to know about trading and so-called “passporting” arrangements for access to the EU.
In 2016 Nissan chief executive Carlos Ghosn met prime minister Theresa May amid fears over the future of its production plant in Sunderland.
Nissan sought assurances over post-Brexit arrangements ahead of future investment in the Sunderland plant, Britain’s biggest car factory.