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Toyota mulls shifting some UK production
September 14, 2017
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FRANKFURT: Deepening uncertainties over the direction and timetable of Brexit negotiations may force Toyota to shift some UK production elsewhere if they are not addressed, the Japanese carmaker warned.

Early government assurances that free trade with the European Union would survive Britain’s departure have been replaced by talk of transition periods, Toyota Executive Vice President Didier Leroy told Reuters.

“A few months ago the UK government was saying that they are sure they will be able to negotiate (a deal) without any trade tax,” Leroy said in an interview at the Frankfurt car show. “They are not saying that any more.”

He added: “It’s clear that if we have to wait two to three more years to have a clarity on this topic, we will have a big question-mark about our future investment in the country.”

Brexit talks have become bogged down in recent weeks, with the EU’s chief negotiator saying not enough progress had been made to begin discussing a free trade deal, amid differences over the size of the “divorce settlement” London should pay.

Britain’s car industry is increasingly anxious that its exports could face tariffs and other barriers after 2019.

PSA Group boss Carlos Tavares sounded an impatient note on Tuesday, saying Brexit uncertainties were complicating integration with Opel and its British Vauxhall plants, acquired by the Peugeot maker from General Motors.

“Until we have more visibility on the trade dimension it’s very hard to define a strategy,” Tavares said in Frankfurt.

Jaguar Land Rover, Britain’s biggest automaker, also warned last week that Brexit was already deterring EU workers and suppliers.

Toyota announced plans in March to begin upgrading its Burnaston plant in central England in preparation for future models at a cost of 240 million pounds ($318 million), after receiving written assurances from London.

Reuters

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