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Nissan commits to UK after Brexit trade deal

Japanese carmaker Nissan today committed to its future in Britain, home to the group’s largest European factory, citing the country’s Brexit trade deal with the European Union.

Chief operating officer Ashwani Gupta said the recent agreement gave its Sunderland plant in north-east England a competitive advantage, dispelling long-running uncertainty over the facility.

“Brexit has brought the business continuity in the short term (and) protects... all of our models which we manufacture in Sunderland,” Gupta was quoted as saying by UK media.

Nissan had previously warned that a no-deal Brexit would threaten its Sunderland factory, which manufactures models including the Juke, Leaf and Qashqai.

However, Britain’s largely foreign-owned automotive sector was a big winner from the free trade Brexit agreement, which allows for smooth tariff-free trade with the continent.

Nissan’s Sunderland hub employs 6,000 workers, and produces 400,000 cars annually, mostly for export.

Gupta added that Nissan would switch battery production for its electric Leaf vehicles from Japan to Britain, to benefit from the zero tariffs.

UK electric car exports will however face tariffs from 2027 if they do not have a majority of components sourced from either Britain or the European Union.

“Sunderland is one of the top three plants in the world for competitiveness for Nissan,” noted Gupta.

“Brexit gives us the competitive advantage in the UK and outside.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was quick to welcome the commitment.

“This is a great vote of confidence in the UK and fantastic news for the brilliant Nissan workforce in Sunderland and electric vehicle manufacturing in this country,” he tweeted.

On the sales side however, new car purchases in Britain crashed to the lowest level for almost three decades in 2020, with demand ravaged by chronic coronavirus fallout and uncertainty ahead of the Brexit deal, recent industry data showed.

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