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UK-Japan trade deal settled nerves for Japanese firms, Honda exec says

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LONDON, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Britain's trade deal with Japansettled the nerves of a lot of Japanese businesses in the UnitedKingdom and gives them confidence about their future prospectsthere, a senior Honda executive said on Tuesday.

Japan, the world's third-largest economy, has since the1980s made the United Kingdom its favoured European destinationfor investment, with the likes of Nissan, Toyotaand Honda using the country as a launchpadinto Europe.

But Britain's shock 2016 decision to leave the EuropeanUnion had prompted Japan to express unusually strong publicconcerns. Their companies and investors warned that a disorderlyexit from the EU would force them to rethink their four-decadebet on Britain.

"We welcome very much the Japanese trade agreement which asa Japanese businesses was very welcomed," Ian Howells, seniorvice president at Honda Motor Europe, told a parliamentarycommittee.

"On the point around confidence, that certainly amongst mypeers in Japanese companies was very much welcomed, and probablysettled a lot of nerves in terms of their trading prospects inthe UK going forward."

Britain and Japan formally signed a trade agreement inOctober, marking Britain's first big post-Brexit deal on trade.It has also made a formal request to join the Comprehensive andProgressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), ofwhich Japan is also a member.(Reporting by Kate Holton)