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 Monday, 25 November, 2002, 11:52 GMT
Ford boss calls for euro referendum

One of the Ford Motor Company's senior bosses has called on the British government to hold a euro referendum.

Sir Nicholas Scheele, Ford's president and chief operating officer warned that companies were being damaged by the UK's failure to sign up to the single currency.



Watch the CBI conference live online

"Every minute of delay in adopting the euro is detrimental to our employees, our business partners, our customers... as well as to Ford."

He was speaking at the annual conference of the employers' organisation, the CBI.

"There is a significant risk to the country's manufacturing and exporting sector if Britain doesn't join the euro."

The heavy cost of sterling

Sir Nicholas said the competitors within the euro zone had a huge advantage.

It is not just Ford that stands to lose, it is the entire exporting and manufacturing sector and, by extension, all of Britain

Sir Nicholas Scheele

"Right now, producing in a sterling-based economy and exporting the product to a national that deals in euros is the equivalent of paying a tax of about 25% - an absolutely incredible penalty."

He said that as one of Britain's biggest employers, the Ford's views on the euro should carry some weight.

"It is not just Ford that stands to lose, it is the entire exporting and manufacturing sector and, by extension, all of Britain."

The no campaign's George Eustice dismissed this, insisting that Sir Nicholas "is confusing a wish for devaluation with the debate about giving up the pound".

"Locking into the euro at the current rate would only perpetuate the problems he is complaining about while the one-size-fits-all interest rate would lead to greater instability for the economy and a more uncertain environment for business," Mr Eustice told BBC News Online.

But Ford says that for some time is has believed that the UK should join the euro only if the pound was at a level of around 1 euro to 75 pence, subtantially lower than the current exchange rate.

CBI is deeply divided

Although Sir Nicholas delivered his forthright opinions on the euro in front of a CBI audience, his views are not shared by all the members.

In fact joining the euro has become such a thorny issue that the CBI refuses to give a view on the subject.

The director-general Digby Jones said that his organisation was deeply divided on the question.

And he said he had no intention of conducting a detailed survey of members' views until the government announced the date for a referendum.


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07 Oct 02 | Business
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