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UK senior lawmakers call on government to disclose Toyota investment reassurances


Reuters

UPDATE 2-UK senior lawmakers call on government to disclose Toyota investment reassurances


(Adds Labour Party response)
    By Costas Pitas and William JamesLONDON, July 17 (Reuters) - The British government should
disclose what post-Brexit reassurances it offered Japanese
carmaker Toyota <7203.T> ahead of a 240-million pound ($313
million) investment in its English car plant, two parliamentary
committee heads said on Monday.
    On Friday, Reuters cited two sources saying that Britain had
helped to secure an investment in the firm's Burnaston car plant
with a letter reassuring the Japanese automaker over future
trading arrangements. [nL8N1K81D5]
    The business ministry has confirmed the existence of a
letter but has refused to release it.
    One of the sources said the letter to Toyota was similar to
one sent to Japanese carmaker Nissan <7201.T> last year when it
decided to build two new models at its plant in northern
England.
    The previous chairman of parliament's Treasury Select
Committee raised questions about the Nissan deal last year.
Reuters contacted the new committee chairwoman on Monday for
comment on the reported reassurances to Toyota.
    "To provide clarity to the public, as the assurances may
cost the taxpayer money, and to other businesses, who are
craving certainty to plan for Brexit, the letters should be
published immediately," Nicky Morgan said in an emailed
statement.
    "It remains to be seen what these assurances could have been
that were robust enough for them to invest in the UK, but
avoided any obligation to report to parliament," she said.
    A Toyota spokesman referred to the company's statement from
the day of the March 16 investment announcement which said the
British government was providing up to 21.3 million pounds in
funding for training and research and development.
    The chairwoman of parliament's business committee,
opposition Labour lawmaker Rachel Reeves, said it was
unacceptable that the government had refused to disclose its
private reassurances to Toyota.
    "It is vital that the government is not seen to be cutting
sweetheart deals or granting special favours that could
undermine our negotiating position," she said in a statement.
    "The government needs to swiftly develop an open and
inclusive strategy when it comes to its Brexit negotiations that
offer all sectors the best chance of success when it comes to
creating jobs and securing investment."
    A business ministry spokesman did not immediately respond to
a request for comment. Business minister Greg Clark suggested
last year that assurances offered to Nissan were available to
other firms.
    The opposition Labour Party said "secretive, one-off deals
were unfair and showed a lack of coherent strategy.
    "The government can't go round making individual deals with
some companies whilst leaving others out in the cold," said the
party's business spokeswoman Rebecca Long-Bailey.
    A first full round of Brexit negotiations kicked off on
Monday in Brussels amid divisions among British Prime Minister
Theresa May's ministers over what form Britain's exit from the
European Union should take.
    Major car firms are worried about the long-term viability of
their British plants and are using their upcoming investment
decisions to push for promises to maintain free trade after
Britain's exit from the EU, which is due to take place in March
2019.

($1 = 0.7656 pounds)

 (Additional reporting by William Schomberg; editing by Guy
Faulconbridge and Richard Balmforth)
 ((Costas.Pitas@thomsonreuters.com; 02075428024; Reuters
Messaging: costas.pitas.thomsonreuters@reuters.net and @Cpitas
on Twitter))

Keywords: BRITAIN EU/TOYOTA COMMITTEE (UPDATE 2)



This article appears in: World Markets , Stocks , Economy


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