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Fri, 09 Feb 2018 14:14 - Updated Fri, 09 Feb 2018 14:14

Japan warns on Brexit: we cannot continue in UK without profit

LONDON - Japan warned Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday that its companies would have to leave Britain if trade barriers after Brexit made them unprofitable.

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Japanese firms have spent more than 40 billion pounds ($56 billion) in Britain, encouraged by successive governments since Margaret Thatcher promising them a business-friendly base from which to trade across the continent.

But after May and several of her top ministers met bosses from 19 Japanese businesses, including Nissan, SoftBank and bank Nomura, Japan’s ambassador to Britain issued an unusually blunt warning on the risks of trade barriers.

“If there is no profitability of continuing operations in the UK - not Japanese only - then no private company can continue operations,” Koji Tsuruoka told reporters on Downing Street when asked how real the threat was to Japanese companies of Britain not securing frictionless EU trade.

“So it is as simple as that,” he said. “This is all high stakes that all of us, I think, need to keep in mind.”

Japan, the world’s third largest economy, has expressed unusually strong public concerns about the impact of Brexit on the United Kingdom, the second-most important destination for Japanese investment after the United States.

In a warning after the shock 2016 Brexit vote, Japan expressed fears about a cliff edge that could disrupt trade when Britain formally leaves the bloc in March 2019.

Major corporations have sought a two-year transition period, which they hope will ease Britain into its new relationship with the bloc.

Both London and Brussels hope to agree a transition deal lasting until the end of 2020, in which Britain would remain in the single market and be bound by all EU laws, by a March 22-23 summit,REUTERS.

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