Business

French message to corporate Japan: U.K. presence in EU is finished

Bloomberg

The British presence in the European Union is over and Japanese businesses should be aware of the consequences, France’s foreign minister said in Tokyo.

Jean-Yves Le Drian was responding to a question about Brexit on the final day of a visit to Japan, during which he met with business leaders.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was a vocal opponent of the U.K.’s exit from the bloc and has repeatedly sought reassurance about its effects on Japanese companies operating in Britain, which include giant carmakers Nissan and Honda.

“The message is clear: first of all, the presence of the U.K. in the EU is finished,” Le Drian said Monday. “Japanese companies must become aware of the consequences.”

A “divorce” is being negotiated and the U.K. won’t be an enemy, but the rules governing its ties to the EU will be less favorable than before, Le Drian said.

“They won’t get preferential treatment,” he added.

His comments came amid a fresh bout of infighting over Brexit in U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s ruling party.

Le Drian, who held a meeting with Foreign Minister Taro Kono on Saturday, said he would like France to welcome Japanese companies as much as possible.

“It’s up to Japanese businesses to assess their interests and it’s up to us to say, ‘yes it’s over with the U.K. and this is what we will do to welcome you,’ ” Le Drian said.

Approximately 1,000 Japanese companies employ about 160,000 people in Britain, with a cumulative investment of about £60 billion ($85 billion), Ambassador to Britain Koji Tsuruoka said last year.

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