Japan’s business lobby issues fresh Brexit warning to Theresa May

Japan’s powerful Keidanren business lobby is stepping up its challenge to Theresa May’s handling of Brexit, with a communique demanding that the UK prime minister give “deeper consideration” to the effects on the British economy, according to people involved in its drafting.

The five-page document being prepared by Keidanren, whose membership includes Toyota, Hitachi and other large Japanese investors in the UK, will specifically take issue with Mrs May’s suggestion that “no [Brexit] deal is better than a bad deal” — a comment that has sent a chill through the boardrooms of Japanese companies that collectively employ an estimated 140,000 people in their UK operations.

“The key message is this: please negotiate with deeper consideration for the economy,” said a person who has seen a draft of Keidanren’s communique, which is expected to be released in early April. “What is desirable is a right deal for sound economic development.”

The push by Japanese investors to step up pressure on the May government comes as it emerged that one in 10 German companies in the UK plans to respond to Brexit by moving investment to other EU states, according to a survey by the German chambers of commerce of 2,200 companies. Some 40 per cent of respondents said they expected business to weaken in Britain.

“Brexit will significantly damage the business of German companies with the UK,” said Eric Schweitzer, the DIHK president, adding that exports to Britain were already down 3.5 per cent last year, with most of the decline coming after the June Brexit vote. “In the coming months we should reckon with further decreases in trade . . . long-term investment will see a sharp weakening in the previous positive trend.”

On Tuesday, Germany’s Bertelsmann, Europe’s biggest media company by revenues, said it was undertaking a “detailed impact analysis” that could result in it moving some of its business from London in the event of a hard…

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