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ICS on Brexit implications for international shipping

ICS on Brexit implications for international shipping
While much attention already has focused on what the UK maritime industry stands to lose through Brexit, International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) secretary general Peter Hinchliffe turns the telescope around and muses on what international and EU shipping have to lose – or gain – from a change to the status quo.

“The UK, in my experience, has tended to be quite brave in the IMO,” he tells Seatrade Maritime News in an exclusive interview. “Sometimes it has been prepared to argue against the EU for the greater good of the industry and maritime trade so therefore it’s interesting to think about how that role might change when the UK is released from the European restraints.”

“I think we’ll find the UK to be a very pragmatic supporter of the industry for two reasons,” he continues. “Firstly because maritime is by definition ‘in the blood’ of an island nation, and secondly because Brexit will inevitably bring maritime trade into much sharper focus for the UK.”

Hinchliffe believes the UK will be “doing everything it can to comply with international regulations,” and even in the case of EU regulations will probably retain many as “they are in line with IMO” and only gradually “amend those that need to be amended.”

“The country will also be making trading arrangements with partners on their own, which they haven’t been doing before solo, and making sure that any impediments to maritime trade are removed,” he adds.

As regards the EU itself, Hinchliffe believes that it will be “a huge loss that the UK is no longer going to be ‘inside the tent’ in Europe. I think it has always been a moderating influence on EU regulations and the loss of that may well be significant.”

Overall, the short- and medium-term prospects for international shipping have not been improved by the vote, he believes.

“I have been fairly surprised by the huge ramifications around the world, the instability that one country has been able to cause by a single, albeit momentous decision,” he says. “It has become an international problem and shipowners wherever they are based have to deal with another market instability, compounding what we’ve been dealing with since 2008.”