Friday, October 28, 2016

Nissan - Fantastic News.

Sometimes I despair of the negative discussion environment surrounding unalloyed good news stories. This week Nissan announced that it is to build not one, but two new models (the Qashqai and the X-Trail) in the UK. From every angle this is fantastic news indeed. It secures 7000 jobs in Sunderland, an area where these jobs are particularly valued. It is a massive boost to the automotive industry in the UK. It will deliver jobs over a much wider area through component suppliers. And it announces to the world that the UK is open for business. There is absolutely nothing to suggest that yesterday's announcement is anything but a huge success for the UK.

Ah but wait. Out come those who are determined to rubbish any good economic news, lest it challenge their own narrative that the UK economy is crashing following the EU Referendum vote to leave the EU. They just can't believe it. What on earth can Nissan be thinking about. Most shockingly of all, they give the impression that they would prefer to have seen Nissan announce they were going to build the new models outside of the UK. I can just about imagine the queue of 'remainers' outside the BBC studios wanting to denounce those who voted Leave if this had been the case.

Of course, these criticisms have to carefully packaged, in questions that suggest some questionable secret deal has been done. Matters not that Secretary of State, Greg Clark, who visited Japan last week, has said "No deal, no compensation, nothing about tariffs". No matter that the Nissan spokesman has said "No special deal. Expect nothing the rest of the industry would not have access to. We see this as a whole industry thing, not a Nissan thing." They seem to want every detail of every conversation to be made public. 

So happens I've done a bit in the 'inward investment' field myself - including visiting Japan. Still recall being despatched to distant capitals as part of Wales diplomatic efforts. Didn't enjoy the travelling much, and didn't make much publicity of it. It was a sort of quiet diplomacy. The transformation of the Welsh economy in the 1980s and 1990s was built on inward investment - exercised through the Welsh Development Agency and Development Board for Rural Wales. Much of the success was built on trust. No more so that in Japan does mutual trust count.  Hugely important that Greg Clark went to Japan to meet Nissan. That visit would have generated great mutual trust. The biggest investment in Montgomeryshire over the last year has been the purchase by Nidec of Control Techniques in Newtown. Another deal struck post Brexit.

Yesterday's announcement by Nissan was fantastic news, in every possible way. We should be cheering from the rooftops, not carping from the sidelines. Actually, that's what most British people will be doing.

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