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British Bbiz secretary mulling Japan visit over Honda plant closure

  • February 26, 2019
  • , Kyodo News , 1:00 p.m.
  • English Press

London, Feb. 25 (Jiji Press) — British Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary Greg Clark is considering visiting Japan over Honda Motor Co.’s <7267> decision, announced last week, to close its Swindon automobile plant in southern Britain, British media reported Monday.

Clark has launched a “last-ditch attempt” to get the major Japanese automaker to stay in Britain, according to a media report.

He is expected to directly ask Honda President Takahiro Hachigo to withdraw the plan to shut down the company’s only four-wheel vehicle factory in Europe.

The business secretary was quoted as saying in a meeting with related officials last week that he was ready to “reach into his pocket” for the right outcome.

He is believed to have suggested that Britain may offer financial support with taxpayers’ money to persuade Honda to stay in Britain, sources familiar with the situation said.

But it is uncertain whether Honda would accept the request, the sources said.

Honda has said it will end its passenger vehicle production in Britain in 2021.

The plant closure is expected to lead to the loss of some 3,500 jobs and deal a heavy blow to the local economy.

Although Honda has denied the link between its plant shutdown and Britain’s planned exit from the European Union, the company’s decision has sent major shockwaves through the country amid uncertainties over Brexit, industry sources said.

In 2016, Clark promised, behind closed doors, to provide up to 80 million pounds in financial aid to major Japanese automaker Nissan Motor Co. over its investment program in Britain, a deal that was revealed recently. But Nissan canceled part of the program earlier this month.

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