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Free trade top of shipping's agenda as UK votes for Brexit

Free trade top of shipping's agenda as UK votes for Brexit
Free trade is at the top of the agenda for UK shipping and insurance business as the country votes to leave the EU.

The result of the referendum with 51.9% of the UK electorate voting to the leave the EU has sent stock markets tumbling, the pound sterling to its lowest level in 31 years, and Prime Minister David Cameron has already announced he is resigning.

The UK Chamber of Shipping which remained neutral in the run-up to the referendum said it recognised the decision of the British people and stressed the importance of free trade.

With the exit from the EU a two-year process the Chamber said it was a time rational and strategic thinking. It highlighted four key policy areas: visas and work permits; border controls for ferries and cruise ships; fiscal arrangements such as tonnage tax; and the future of EU Navfor and interaction with European navies over migrant rescues in the Mediterranean.

“The rest of the world beyond Europe has experienced significant economic growth, and a key argument by the Vote Leave campaign was that the UK would be able to quickly sign free trade deals with trading partners around the world.   Government now has to act quickly to ensure that happens,” it stated.

The Chamber wants a new body to oversee this processs. “We believe that Government should establish a new Free Trade Commission, working across the Department for Business and the Foreign Office, to train trade negotiators and begin the process of establishing new trading ties around the world and be ready for the negotiations with the remaining members of the EU.”

The International Underwriting Association (IUA) also stressed the importance of free trade.

“The free trade benefits of EU membership have been vital in maintaining London’s position as a global insurance hub and are highly valued by IUA members. This is true both for insurers headquartered in the UK and those international firms that use London as their centre for European business,” said David Matcham chief executive of the IUA.

“Continued access to European markets is essential and will, I expect, be at the forefront of the process to respond to the referendum decision. The IUA will be working with the London Market Group to ensure our industry’s views are fully represented as developments continue.”