The UK’s prime minister Theresa May, along with chancellor Philip Hammond, will try to reassure leaders of major Japanese firms today when they meet to discuss the UK’s exit from the European Union.

Car makers Nissan, Toyota, and Honda are among Japanese firms which have invested billions of pounds in the country in recent decades.

The car industry has warned that it could take a huge hit if a deal is not done with the EU that will allow it to continue trading as it has up until now.

Without a deal car makers are facing tariffs of up to 10 percent, as well as lengthy customs delays when selling into mainland Europe.

Japanese bank Nomura’s executive chairman in Europe, the Middle East and Africa Yasuo Kashiwagi will attend the meeting, Reuters reports.

Some of Japan’s biggest drug companies are also expected to attend today’s meeting.

Details of today’s meeting are being kept under wraps however.

What was said:

A Nissan spokesperson said:

Nissan Europe chairman Paul Willcox will join representatives from other Japanese companies in meeting the Prime Minister and chancellor on Thursday to discuss our operations and investments in the UK. We will not be disclosing details of the discussions.

A Downing Street spokesperson told the BBC:

[The attendees] will cover the most significant investors in the UK in such areas as banking, life sciences, technology and the manufacturing sector.

Why it matters:

The meeting comes amid fresh debate among business over Brexit negotiations. There is fierce debate inside May’s government about how closely Britain should remain aligned with the EU and its customs union after Brexit.

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Nissan, which runs Britain’s single biggest car factory in Sunderland, northern England, announced in 2016 that it would build two new models at the site after a alleged government promise of extra support in the event that Brexit hits the competitiveness of the plant.

In 2016 Nissan chief executive Carlos Ghosn met prime minister Theresa May amid fears over the future of its production plant in Sunderland.

Banks Nomura, Daiwa Securities and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group have London bases but have already decided to set up operations in Europe to retain access to the single market as they await clarity on future trading arrangements.

Background:

Nissan, Toyota and Honda began their UK operations in Britain in the 1980s and now build nearly half of all of Britain’s 1.67m cars. The big majority of these are exported.

Earlier this week it was revealed the UK’s new car market declined by 6.3 percent last month with 163,615 cars leaving showrooms. It follows a downward trend that started last April after years of record growth.

Much of this decline has been put down to a significant drop in sales of diesel cars, as the extent of the air pollution crisis has become evident and government raised tax on vehicles not meeting the latest emissions standards.

Meanwhile, car makers could see a 13 percent hike in manufacturing costs outside the EU, according to analysis by government economists.