Business

Nissan deal 'won't persuade others to invest'

  • 1 November 2016
  • From the section Business
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Media captionKenichi Ohmae: Nissan was "a very special case"

One of Japan's top business strategists says investment in the UK will be smaller following the Brexit vote - and he is advising companies to hold fire.

In an interview with BBC Newsnight, Kenichi Ohmae called the recent deal at Nissan's plant in Sunderland a "minor decision" involving one company.

"I don't think other companies will follow suit," he added.

Mr Ohmae advised Nissan to set up its main European plant in the UK in the early 1980s.

Last week, Nissan confirmed it will build both the new Qashqai and the X-Trail SUV at its Sunderland plant following government "support and assurances".

Prime Minister Theresa May described the announcement as "fantastic news", adding: "This vote of confidence shows Britain is open for business."

Nissan's decision is the first major development for the car industry since the Brexit vote and secures 7,000 jobs.

But Mr Ohmae questioned whether exports will continue from Sunderland in the same manner as before the EU referendum vote. "That's just a statement by the UK government. We will have to wait and see.

"It is true that Nissan have said they will continue producing the two types of models after Brexit, [but] that's a very, very minor one company decision. I don't think other companies will follow suit."

He said he believes Nissan is "a very special case".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Nissan's car manufacturing plant in Sunderland is the largest in the UK

In terms of his advice to companies, Mr Ohmae said: "We don't have enough information to make a prudent judgement. Therefore with the final picture of the UK uncertain, I will advise them to hold until the course is clear and until the conditions of Brexit are worked out - not only by what the UK government says, but what the European Union says."

"Until that final shape of the UK is clear, we will have to hold the investment decisions," he added.

Mr Ohmae said people in Japan were shocked by the UK's vote to leave the referendum. "We don't understand why British people voted for Brexit... [it was] completely a surprise to us - and probably to many in the United Kingdom."

He said he has concerns around the movement of people after the UK leaves the EU - particularly those with expertise and skills - and that those who voted to leave on the grounds that migrants are taking jobs are mistaken.

"The people's sentiment that immigrants have taken our jobs away - we just don't see that in the statistics and on the day employment scene."

"It's a shame that the parliament - which has decision-making ability - did not go back to the referendum. The parliament accepted the referendum which it didn't have to, according to our understanding of the legal constraints."

The full interview with Kenichi Ohmae was broadcast on BBC Newsnight on Tuesday 2 November.

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