Letter: The car business: company history, Japanese honour, German priorities, British nostalgia

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Sir: British business is playing dangerous games with its image abroad. Honda had a number of options when it was looking for a European partner in the Eighties. Rover was hardly the best choice in terms of past performance or dynamic export policies.

Honour is important to the Japanese. Honda executives could not have forseen that their partner, representing the core of the British motor industry, would within five years start talking behind their backs to a major competitor, finally announcing a deal without proper consultation with their existing shareholder.

Should the British people be just as dismayed? Or should we accept that the general erosion of ethics is a necessary part of the 'New British Way' of business, and tough luck to the Japanese?

British Aerospace has made a fast pounds 800m. The deal cannot bounce back in BAe's corporate face because BAe is quitting the motor industry. Having washed its corporate hands of engine grease, BAe is free to concentrate on its core business (selling weapons systems to the Third World) with a clear conscience.

Motor industry specialists have concluded that Honda should stay in the new partnership, contributing its unique expertise, if the venture is to succeed. The honourable Japanese may be inclined to walk away, and who can blame them?

Yours sincerely,

PETER MANSAND

London, W9

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