Aida 204 Panel with "UK" ……


GLOBALISTS are not taking British rebellion against the European single currency lying down. In January, Hiroshi Okuda, president of the Japanese car giant, Toyota, which employs 2 000 people in the UK, threw his own time bomb into the debate, with a threat that Britain's failure to join EMU could see Toyota's multi-million investments switched to the continent. The surprise intervention came when, according to news reports, Okuda indicated that it would shift its European investments to continental Europe if Britain did not join the EMU. Asked directly if Toyota's future strategy in Britain would change depending on whether it would join EMU, Okuda said: "It will change."

Toyota officials stationed in the UK immediately applied some damage control by explaining, off the record, that Okuda was "clearly looking ahead to the millennium and where to expand in the future, with emerging markets in Eastern Europe particularly attractive." That may be, but other foreign investors are also applying the heat. Berndt Pischets-Rieder, head of BMW, has also openly challenged the British to sign up to the single currency. Against that, the other two principal Japanese car manufacturers in Britain, Honda and Nissan, were quick to distance themselves from Toyota's comments.

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