The Japanese car giant – whose plant near Sunderland in the North East employs almost 8,000 people – has urged Theresa May to make a deal which allows “frictionless trade” between the UK and EU countries.
A hard Brexit would mean the UK leaves the EU without a customs union or agreement on common standards to allow free movement of goods. It would also mean Nissan would have to trade with the EU under World Trade Organisation rules, which apply 4.5 per cent tariffs to car parts and 10 per cent to finished cars.
This, Nissan says, would be devastating for the company, which relies on quick daily imports from the EU without fees or customs delays.
Nissan’s Sunderland factory is biggest in UK history
In a statement to the Guardian, Nissan said: “Since 1986, the UK has been a production base for Nissan in Europe. Our British-based research and development and design teams support the development of products made in Sunderland, specifically for the European market.
“Frictionless trade has enabled the growth that has seen our Sunderland plant become the biggest factory in the history of the UK car industry, exporting more than half of its production to the EU.
“Today we are among those companies with major investments in the UK who are still waiting for clarity on what the future trading relationship between the UK and the EU will look like. As a sudden change from those rules to the rules of the World Trading Organisation will have serious implications for British industry, we urge UK and EU negotiators to work collaboratively towards an orderly balanced Brexit that will continue to encourage mutually beneficial trade.”
Nissan employs nearly 40,000 people across the UK
The company has previously warned that the tariffs imposed by a hard Brexit could cost around £500 million, and would put the Sunderland plant in jeopardy.
Nissan also employs around 30,000 people at other companies around the UK which supply the manufacturer.
Theresa May met with Nissan chair Carlos Ghosn in 2016 to assure him of financial support for the car industry, after they delayed manufacturing two models at the North East plant.
Ghosn has called the factory “a European investment based in the UK”, and could move it abroad if Brexit makes staying put untenable.
i has approached Nissan for comment.