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It’s Time for Rational and Strategic Thinking Following Brexit Victory

Posted on June 27, 2016

By Bruce Barnard,

The UK Chamber of Shipping has led the calls for calm from the maritime industry after Britons voted to leave the European Union, crashing the pound sterling to a 30-year low and wiping billions of dollars off share prices across European stock markets.

Following widespread reaction from maritime interests across the United Kingdom, the trade association that represents UK shipping said it was too soon to start speculating on the impact of the Brexit vote on the country’s trade procedures with the EU.

“Shipping moves 95% of the UK’s international trade and we don’t see that changing,” the chamber said.

“What we need now are cool heads. We’ve had the political debate, now it’s time for rational and strategic thinking.”

The key issues for UK shipping are visas and work permits, fiscal arrangements including tonnage tax, border controls at ferry terminals, and collaboration with European navies to counter piracy and rescue of migrants in the Mediterranean, the chamber said in a statement.

The UK government must set up a new Free Trade Commission to train trade negotiators and begin the process of new trading ties around the world and with the EU, it said.

“We may now be beginning the process of leaving the European Union, but we are still an island nation that has to make its way in the world through buying and selling, and the shipping industry is here for that very purpose.”

The British International Freight Association (BIFA), which represents freight forwarders, said it will campaign in the run-up to the exit from the EU to ensure the movement of the UK’s visible import and export trades does not become overburdened by over-complicated procedures.

“Today the UK is still a member of the EU and it is too soon to start speculation on the outcome of two years-plus of negotiations regarding trade deals and movement of goods,” said BIFA’s director general, Robert Keen.

“We will be making sure that those undertaking the negotiations recognise the fundamental role that our members’ freight forwarding services, including customs processing, play in underpinning the movement of the UK’s visible trade with Europe.”

Lloyd’s of London, the world’s largest marine insurer, said it will remain at the centre of the global market despite the Leave vote. Lloyd’s has a “well prepared” contingency plan in place to operate in the new environment, Lloyd’s chairman John Nelson said.

Greig Macpherson, commercial manager of Vantage Shipping Lines (UK) Ltd branch office said, “While the current leadership vacuum exists in the UK, we should all expect a degree of uncertainty and confusion over the coming weeks. However, we expect the shipping industry to ride the storm and carry on as normal.

“Shipowners and charterers have dealt for millennia with division, walls, wars, and trade embargoes but the industry just keeps on delivering throughout them all, as it must.

“The only real concern at this time is the continued freedom of Greek shipping companies to be able to open, staff, and run representative offices in the UK without additional punitive or restrictive measures, as have been mooted in the build-up to the referendum.

“Shipping in London is now principally in the area of services to the industry, such as legal, insurance, broking etc, and the execution of those services should not be directly affected by Brexit.

“For now, it is basically business as usual and we would go so far as to predict that the next cabinet would be more than sympathetic towards protecting the rights of Greek shipowners to be able to staff their UK offices as they see fit in the years leading up to and after Brexit,” said Macpherson.

Source: fairplay

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