The Government’s Northern Powerhouse minister has said keeping high quality manufacturing jobs in the North East should be at the “heart of Brexit negotiations”, while playing down fears that leaving the EU could see major Japanese employers quit the region.
Jake Berry, minister for the Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth, praised the region’s strong manufacturing heritage and said Brexit talks should focus on keeping jobs and businesses in the North East.
Mr Berry said: “It is too early to say what any trade deal will look like but from a Northern Powerhouse point of view keeping our high quality manufacturing is hugely important to growing a strong economy in the North of England.
“One of the interesting things is that while there are challenges around Brexit there is a huge opportunity to create trade new trade opportunities around the world.”
His comments where made during a visit to AkzoNobel’s new paint factory in Ashington, Northumberland.
The £100m facility, which produced Dulux branded paints, became the largest single investment ever made by the paint and coatings firm when it opened in September 2017.
The company employs 150 people in Ashington and supports more than 100 roles in the local supply chain.
Mr Berry said AkzoNobel’s investment was a vote of confidence for the region and the Northern Powerhouse as a whole.
However, last week doubt was cast over the future of some North East manufacturers when Japanese ambassador Koji Tsuruoka said many firms would be forced to leave the UK if Brexit made them unprofitable.
The North East is home to a number of major Japanese manufacturers, including car giant Nissan, which employs around 7,000 staff in Sunderland, with the list of other Japanese firms in the region including Sanoh Industrial Co, Calsonic Kansei, Stockton’s Nifco, Unipres, and NSK Bearings.
Nissan directors were among a raft of Japanese business leaders who met with Prime Minister Theresa May amid Brexit concerns.
However, Mr Berry shrugged off concerns that leaving the EU would lead to many of these firms leaving the UK.
He said: “Why firms like Nissan come to the North East is the fantastic skill base here and our tradition of building high quality products that appeal to people across the world. There’s huge opportunities to see the economy grow here.
“We are starting to talk about how the North East is at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse through the devolution deal.”
Source : Chroniclelive