The UK Business Secretary Greg Clark said yesterday, 30 October 2016, that Nissan had been assured that the UK Government would seek to avoid tariffs or bureaucratic obstacles to cross-border trade in components under any potential Brexit deal.

In the wake of Nissan’s confirmation that it would build the next generation of two models at its plant in Sunderland, north-east England, Mr Clark spoke on the Andrew Marr show and confirmed that the Government had not promised to compensate Nissan for potential tariffs, as doing so would violate WTO rules. Instead, he noted that the Japanese manufacturer was persuaded to continue investing in the UK with a series of assurances from the Government, including support for training and electric vehicle development. Mr Clark confirmed that he wrote to Nissan with the assurances, and promised that the Government was confident that it would secure a Brexit deal that would keep the car industry competitive.

Mr Clark stated that the Government’s “objective would be to ensure that we have continued access to the markets in Europe and vice versa without tariffs and without bureaucratic impediments. And that is what we want and how we’re going to approach those negotiations.” Mr Clark also alluded to the fact that this would apply to the car industry in general, not just to Nissan, and possible also to other major sectors of UK business.

Mr Clark’s comments appear to suggest that the Government is seeking a free trade relationship for the automotive industry that at least brings benefits similar to membership of the Single Market and of a Customs Union. Whether this can be achieved, whilst at the same time achieving Prime Minister May’s desire for greater controls on immigration and freedom from surveillance of the European Court of Justice, is yet to be seen.

A transcript of the full interview can be found here.