The UK car industry has been assured that the deal offered to Nissan - which would eliminate any tariffs imposed on the companies' exports to Europe - will be offered to all car manufacturers, according to business secretary Greg Clark.
Talking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Clark said: “It is my job to provide the assurances to Nissan and others that Britain is going to continue to be a great place to invest. I was able to do that and this [Nissan’s continuing investment] was the result that we saw.
“One of the assurances I was able to give is that our intention, our negotiating remit when it comes to the discussions with our European partners is to have a constructive and civilised dialogue to look for the common interest here.
The government’s promises, which were made earlier this month to the UK’s largest producer of cars, Nissan, prompted the firm to continue investment in its Sunderland plant. Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn had previously warned at the Paris motor show that a so-called ‘hard Brexit’ could cause the car giant to reconsider its future investment in Sunderland, saying "If I need to make an investment in the next few months and I can’t wait until the end of Brexit, then I have to make a deal with the UK government."
“Our objective would be to ensure that we have a continued access to the markets in Europe and vice versa, without tariffs and without bureaucratic impediments. That is how we will approach the negotiations. It is important to manufacturing they get the minimum or no tariffs and no impediments,” Clark added.
In the wake of the UK’s vote to leave the European Union, there were fears that large automotive businesses, such as Nissan and Vauxhall, would pull out of the UK. Several manufacturers have already raised their prices since the vote because the value of the pound has fluctuated.
Both car production and car registrations have yet to be affected by the vote, according to statistics from the SMMT, but industry figureheads are still warning that the damage may not yet have come into play. A smaller UK manufacturer, MG, has already ceased assembly in the UK for this reason, although it represents a very small percentage of overall production.
Mike Hawes, SMMT CEO, said: “We’re greatly encouraged by the Secretary of State's comments and those made by the Prime Minister last week. It is important that the Government makes it a priority to safeguard the competitiveness of this important and globally successful sector as we leave the EU. This means maintaining a competitive business environment, ensuring talent can be recruited from abroad and securing the benefits we currently enjoy in the single market - including tariff free trade unhindered by any customs bureaucracy."
After Nissan boss Ghosn’s talk with Theresa May, which he described as "positive and productive", Ghosn said the government "will continue to ensure the UK remains a competitive place to do business", but did not clarify exactly what was said.
He later 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.”