Chalk up yet another Brexit deficit: Japanese electronics firm Panasonic will be moving its European headquarters from the UK to Amsterdam in October because it’s worried about the tax implications if it stays, the Nikkei Asian Review reports.
The company is concerned it could face tax liabilities if the UK shifts its corporate tax regime as a result of Brexit.
Laurent Abadie, CEO of Panasonic Europe, told the publication Japan could treat the U.K. as a tax haven if the country lowers its corporate rate — as the government has indeed suggested it will to try to make itself a more attractive destination for businesses once it’s outside the European Union’s trading bloc.
In November 2016 the UK Prime Minister announced a review of the country’s corporate tax rate — saying the government could move to substantially cut the rate below the current 20%.
Prior to that, former chancellor George Osborne pledged to cut the rate to below 15%.
At the same time as announcing the rate review, the PM unveiled a package of business-focused measures — intended to try to quell fears around Brexit. Although a rate cut evidently isn’t friendly to every business.
In the case of Panasonic, it’s concerned that if the U.K. gets designated a tax-haven by Japan it could be saddled with back taxes back home. So moving to stay regionally headquartered within the European Union removes that risk.
Abadie also told the Nikkei Asian Review that moving its regional HQ to continental Europe will help it avoid any barriers to the flow of people and goods thrown up by Brexit.
The shape of any deal — or even whether there will be a deal between the UK and the EU, post-Brexit — still remains to be seen just a few months before the UK is scheduled to exit the EU, in March 2019. So businesses are having to make key decisions based on possible or potential outcomes.
Meanwhile the UK’s regulatory influence in the region continues to be diminished…