Wales politics

Brexit 'dithering' lost Chinese investment in Carmarthenshire

MP Jonathan Edwards (centre) welcomes Longhua representatives to FieldMaster Tractors HQ Image copyright Plaid Cymru
Image caption MP Jonathan Edwards (centre) welcomes Longhua representatives to FieldMaster Tractors HQ

A Chinese company has scrapped plans to invest in Carmarthenshire due to Brexit uncertainty, MPs have been told.

Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards said that Longhua had abandoned a deal with FieldMaster Tractors in Betws, near Ammanford, which promised 40 jobs.

He blamed the UK government's "dithering" over Wales' future relationship with the EU single market.

Wales Office Minister Mr Bebb denied the charge but said he was disappointed by the news.

The Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP raised the issue during Welsh Questions in the Commons on Wednesday.

"Last week, the owner [of FieldMaster Tractors] received notification from China that the deal was off due to uncertainty about our future trading relationship with the European Union," Mr Edwards said.

"Does the minister recognise that the UK government's dithering over Wales's future relationship with the single market and the customs union is costing jobs now?"

Image copyright FieldMaster Tractors
Image caption Chris Parrott of FieldMaster Tractors reached an agreement with Longhua chairman LV Zhichun

Mr Bebb said he was "disappointed", adding: "Any loss of investment in Wales is to be regretted.

"He is wrong, however, to talk about dithering," the minister continued.

"We want strong trade relations with the European Union and with the rest of the world.

"Any Chinese investor looking at the UK knows that this country is friendly to investment from all parts of the globe."

FieldMaster Tractors founder and owner Chris Parrott said he was disappointed his Chinese backers had pulled out of the project, citing uncertainty over the UK's future trading relationship with Europe.

He set up the company in 2014 after 30 years in the car industry, and had begun on a small scale assembling tractors from India.

The firm had changed its name to Longhua FieldMaster in anticipation of the deal, Mr Parrott said, which would have seen the operation expand to assembly tractors from China instead.

"You just have to pick yourself up and carry on," he told BBC Wales, saying the company had spent a "small fortune" getting Longhua on board.

"We've just got to rethink our strategy and grow organically."

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