The UK’s trade deal with Japan helped lead to a smoother Brexit transition for Honda this year and ensured greater confidence, according to one of the carmakers’ European bosses.
Ian Howell, senior vice president at Honda Motor Europe, told MPs today that the trade deal “settled a lot of nerves” among Japanese companies.
Honda’s manufacturing plant in Swindon will shut its doors in July, after the company announced in 2019 that it would close its UK plant permanently.
The move will put 3,500 employees at the factory out of work, with production moving to Japan, North America and China.
This will means that Honda cars will need to be imported into the UK.
Howell said the UK trade deal struck with Japan last year, which will remove tariffs on Japanese car exports by 2026, eased concerns about post-Brexit disruption.
“We welcome very much the Japanese trade agreement which as a Japanese businesses was very welcomed,” Howell said.
“On the point around confidence, that certainly amongst my peers in Japanese companies was very much welcomed, and probably settled a lot of nerves in terms of their trading prospects in the UK going forward.”
Howell said that Honda had experienced some issues since the UK left the EU’s single market and customs union, but not enough to significantly alter its “Just in Time” supply chain process.
“We have seen some inconsistency with the way the border is operating but in overall terms the flow is working,” he said.
“Just in Time from our perspective means those flows need to work very effectively.”