Japanese companies have already ‘begun receiving offers to relocate elsewhere in the EU’

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One of Japan’s leading businessmen has warned Britain that Japanese companies have already begun receiving offers to relocate elsewhere in the EU and are contemplating postponing investment decisions following the UK’s decision to leave the EU, the Independent reports.

Haruki Hayashi, the President of the Japanese chambers of commerce in the UK and chief executive of Mitsubishi in the EU, urged Britain to give more than “general reassurances” to Japanese firms with branch offices in the UK or risk putting investments decisions at risk.

His warning comes as Business Secretary Greg Clark resisted calls to reveal the correspondence and terms of its agreements with the Japanese car giant Nissan following last week’s announcement that the company will build two new models at its plant in Sunderland, securing the future of 7,000 jobs.

Speaking to MPs, including the Brexit Secretary David Davis, Hayashi said the uncertainty that has risen after the Brexit vote, including the slump in the value of the pound and the possibility of being restricted from the EU’s single market, is a major concern for Japan.

Hayashi was quoted saying: “Some examples of areas of concern for Japanese companies include validity of the single passport system, the free movement of skilled workers between the UK and different parts of Europe, and whether the continuation of the current environment of uncertainty will lead the Japanese companies to postpone further investment decisions.”

He emphasised that Japanese businesses had come to Britain looking for a gateway for Europe.

David Davis sought to reassure the investors present at the reception saying the UK  will be “a beacon of free trade”, adding that May’s government intends to negotiate for a “comprehensive trading” agreement with the EU.

In September, a Japanese government task-force already delivered a warning to the UK in a 15-page document titled “Japan’s Message to the United Kingdom and the European Union”.

The document made clear that Japanese companies want clarity about UK’s negotations with the EU.

“Uncertainty is a major concern for an economy; it evokes a sense of anxiety, causing volatility in markets, and results in the contraction of trade, investment and credit,” the report’s authors wrote.

“What Japanese businesses in Europe most wish to avoid is the situation in which that they are unable to discern clearly the way the Brexit negotiations are going, only grasping the whole picture at the last minute.”