Nissan urges UK to remain in the EU

Japanese automotive giant Nissan has urged the UK to remain in the European Union, warning that a departure would create "obstacles" to foreign investment in car manufacturing.

Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged to hold a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union (EU) by the end of 2017, and Nissan chief operating officer Toshiyuki Shiga has warned of the problematic outcome should the UK withdraw.

He said he believes the potential threat of import tariffs between the UK and the rest of the EU could be prove an obstacle to the car-maker, one of the UK’s most important foreign investors.

“A lot of regulations are under the EU. If the UK, after departing from the EU, made unique regulations, unique standards, that would become an obstacle,” said Toshiyuki Shiga, Nissan’s chief operating officer, speaking at its Japan HQ.

“If the EU side put import duties on the UK that would be a big obstacle. It depends what happens after leaving,” he added.

Mr Shiga added that Britain remaining in the EU is a simpler outcome as matters such as vehicle safety regulation, emissions regulations and import duties were the same.

The manufacturer employs 6,400 at its Sunderland site, the UK’s biggest car factory, where it has invested £3.5bn since 1986 and recentlystarted production of its new Note vehicle.

It also employs several hundred more at its research and development centre at Cranfield in Bedfordshire.

Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna said Toyota’s statement proves the coalition needs to be wary of its proposals to renegotiate EU membership.

“These comments from Nissan make it clear that millions of pounds of inward investment and thousands of jobs could be put at risk by the Tory-led Government’s approach and attitude to the EU,” said Mr Umunna.

He added: “Nissan’s comments underline that Britain’s place within the EU is essential to us being able to compete, attract investment and pay our way in the world.”