Japanese carmakers were in a quandary, Richard Hyde recalled: their vehicles, dismissed as of inferior quality, had a “terrible reputation” in the 1970s. But today, “I don’t hear many people talking about Toyotas being an inferior product any more.”
The seasoned diplomat is based in Texas, not Tokyo. As British consul-general in Houston, he visits farms across America’s south, not automotive factories in east Asia.
In frank conversations with US agricultural producers hoping to send chicken and beef across the pond under a mooted trade agreement, Hyde has sought to explain why their produce may not fly off supermarket shelves. They face an image problem.
Britain remains a long way off striking a prized free trade accord with Washington, with formal negotiations on ice. Years