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The Chinese are coming…

2 years ago

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Andrew English | Journalist


6 October 2022

The Chinese are coming! Lock up your daughters, hide under the stairs, resistance is useless and Europe’s car makers will be doomed against the tidal wave of cheap imports.

Sound familiar? Remember the furore over a flood of Japanese car imports in the 1980s and 90s, which resulted in limits on imports and the UK’s ‘gentleman’s agreement’ with Japanese authorities, but still remained a toxic issue in international trade terms. Indeed, when in 1984 Nissan and the UK Government signed an agreement to build a factory on a greenfield site in Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, Jacques Calvert, Peugeot’s boss called Britain ‘a Japanese aircraft carrier off the coast of Europe.’

Even years later, Calvert wanted to further limit Japanese sales in Europe beyond the arrangement’s scheduled end in 1999 calculating that the Japanese had over-shot their European sales agreement by 3.5 million units. Against better made, better equipped and cheaper Japanese rivals, the British motor industry, epitomised by the strike-prone, badly managed and beleaguered British Leyland, went the way of our motorcycle industry; it was like watching the submerging stern of a sinking ocean liner…

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