Priorities for Leaving the European Union
Leaving the European Union will not change many of the UK’s greatest strengths: its time zone, common law, English language, and geographical position. Nor will it change the fact that the UK, as a cultural hub with excellent public infrastructure, is a place where people from around the world want to live and develop their talents, noted a new report from the UK Chamber of Shipping.
“What could change, however,” the report said, “is the nature of its trading relationships and the regulatory environment that manage them.”
The UK Chamber of Shipping represents 170 companies in the maritime sector, an industry that moves 95 percent of the country’s international trade.
Depending on the nature of the separation, leaving the European Union could be to the benefit or detriment of the UK—as it could be to the remaining members of the EU.
The removal of customs controls between the EU and UK in 1992 stimulated huge growth in the UK trade with its EU neighbors, the report noted. The UK’s ports have grown as a result as far as the development of new berths capable of handling larger ships but the areas of the terminals where the cargo is processed have remained unchanged in size. The increase in port capacity “is due almost entirely to the fact,” according to the report that trucks don’t stop and await permission from customs to approach a ship, accept goods, or leave the port.
“The maintenance of current trade volume is critically dependent on the traffic continuing to pass through ports freely,” said the report. “Re-imposition of significant customs checks and controls will have a profoundly negative effect on the shipping sector and the UK’s ability to trade with the European continent.” Ferries to and from Dover alone transport $150 billion in goods every year between the UK and the mainland.
“A global industry requires a global workforce,” said the report. “As one of the world’s leading maritime hubs, it stands to reason that the UK requires access to the world’s best talent in order to maintain and improve its international standing.”
The chamber also wants the government to reform domestic policy to put the UK on the best possible footing post-Brexit. Shipping centers such as Singapore and Dubai make it easy for companies to hire foreign talent. The UK visa regime, according to the chamber, is too cumbersome for UK shipping companies to recruit personnel from outside Europe.
Other post-Brexit opportunities for the UK, according to the report, include removing outdated EU regulation and strengthening the UK’s role at the International Maritime Organization free from Brussels control.