Siemens CEO on Brexit: Nobody invests into uncertainty

Posted February 11, 2019 8:49 a.m. EST

— The CEO of Siemens says the United Kingdom must provide clarity on trade or risk further declines in investment.

"Nobody puts money [into] uncertainty. That's not the way it works," Siemens boss Joe Kaeser told CNN Business' Emerging Markets Editor John Defterios on Monday.

The United Kingdom is scheduled to leave the European Union on March 29, but there's still no exit agreement in place.

Business lobby groups are still clamoring for clarity on the terms of the divorce and Britain's future trading relationship with the European Union.

"The biggest challenge today for everybody ... is the uncertainty," said Kaeser.

"The United Kingdom has become an island floating on the Atlantic and nobody knows where to go," he added. "That's the last thing you want to do to your people and your investors."

Data published Monday in the United Kingdom show that uncertainty is already causing significant economic problems.

Annual growth fell to 1.4% last year. The last time it was that low was 2012. The final three months of the year were particularly weak, and business investment decreased for a fourth consecutive quarter.

Lost investment

Airbus has warned that it would be forced to redirect future investment if Britain crashes out of the European Union. Nissan cited uncertainty over Brexit when it scrapped plans to build a new model in England.

EY estimates that banks and other financial companies have shifted assets worth at least £800 billion ($1 trillion) out of the country and into the European Union.

The Dutch government said this weekend that 42 companies have relocated from Britain to the Netherlands over Brexit, resulting in €290 million ($328 million) in new investment.

It's in talks with another 250 companies about moving.

"If the UK people know what their government got themselves into, maybe they would've voted differently," said Kaeser ."But it's really hard to find that out."