Belfast Telegraph

Microsoft allays fears it will pull business from the UK over tariff fears

Microsoft has moved to quash fears that it will consider dumping Britain if costs rise due to the imposition of tariffs following Brexit.

In response to comments made by its UK government affairs manager Owen Larter, the US tech giant said that its "commitment to the UK is unchanged".

It said in a statement: "The comments reported today by a Microsoft employee were not reflective of the company's view.

"As we have said both before and after the EU referendum vote, Microsoft's commitment to the UK is unchanged. In particular, those customers in our UK data centres should continue to rely on Microsoft's significant investment plans there."

Mr Larter said on Monday as part of a "What Brexit Means for Tech" webinar that Microsoft, which employs 5,000 in the UK, could build its data centres in European countries other than the UK.

He said: "We're really keen to avoid import tariffs on any hardware. Going back to the data centre example, we're looking to build out our data centres at a pretty strong lick in the UK, because the market is doing very well.

"If all of a sudden there are huge import (tariffs) on server racks from China or from eastern Europe, where a lot of them are actually assembled, that might change our investment decisions and perhaps we build out our data centres across other European countries."

Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed that she will take Britain out of the European Union's single market last week, raising the real prospect of tariffs being reimposed on UK companies.

As a member of the EU, Britain currently enjoys tariff free trade with the bloc's other 27 members.

In October, Microsoft said that it is hiking prices for British businesses by as much as 22% as a direct result of the collapse in sterling following the EU referendum.

It said that it would be raising fees for its UK business clients in order to "realign close to euro levels," and harmonise prices across the EU.