The UK’s post-Brexit trade deal has been welcomed by automotive giant Nissan, which has a major plant at Sunderland.
A number of the company’s executives had warned that the plant’s future would be threatened by a no-deal Brexit, and the plant has been at the centre of the Brexit debate for years, with both Remain and Leave campaigners using it to back up their respective arguments.
The period since the 2016 referendum has seen the cancellation of two models being produced or due to be produced at the Sunderland plant, while Nissan has been buffeted by wider disruption in the global automotive market.
But the Christmas Eve agreement of a deal that appears to allow tariff-free access to EU markets for British-made goods has been welcomed by the company.
A Nissan spokesman said: “Nissan welcomes the agreement reached between the UK and the EU.
“We look forward to the continued success of our UK-based design, engineering and manufacturing operations, which have been serving the European market for more than 30 years.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has hailed a historic trade deal struck with the EU as a “new beginning” for Britain. The deal has been broadly welcomed by a number of business groups, though most have said they will need to examine it in detail, and warned that the new arrangements will mean more paperwork for companies.
Nissan was seen as particularly vulnerable to a no-deal outcome, partly because most of the cars made at its Sunderland plant are exported to Europe, but also because the parts in its vehicles are made by a long supply chain and frequently cross national borders between different companies.
Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said: “We await the details to ensure this deal works for all automotive goods and technologies, including specifics on rules of origin and future regulatory co-operation.
“A phase-in period is critical to help businesses on both sides adapt and efforts should now be sustained to ensure seamless implementation, with tariff-free trade fully accessible and effective for all from day one.”