Lloyd’s List has warned that Brexit must be made “shipping-friendly” after Britain formally triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty yesterday (March 29, 2017) to start the two years’ formal notice of its intention to terminate membership of the European Union.
The maritime intelligence company expressed concern in an announcement that referenced the leaked government document obtained by The Times newspaper in February which failed to rank shipping on a list detailing how much assistance industries were to receive during the Article 50 process.
It highlighted that Brexit would need to support insurance and other white-collar shipping services and that it would be “essential” that passporting rights for Lloyd’s insurance and other marine insurance segments be secured.
Lloyd’s List stated: “Mrs May has explicitly ruled out continued membership of the single market, and made clear that she is seeking to replace it with the best possible bespoke free trade agreement.
“For the future prosperity of UK shipping — not to mention the future prosperity of UK residents — this must top the list of key deliverables. In particular, cabotage rights for UK owners must not be lost.
“Perhaps most essential of all, Brexit needs to be shipping-friendly when it comes to customs clearance.
“The potential denouement of falling at this hurdle was graphically outlined in a recent panel discussion at Westminster, led by ports bosses themselves.”
Tim Waggott, CEO of Port of Dover – Britain’s busiest port supporting trade in goods to the value of over £120 billion, spoke to the BBC and warned that getting Brexit wrong could lead to queues of lorries at Dover “every day in perpetuity”.
Waggott said: “The armageddon scenario would be jobs being lost in the Midlands Engine or Northern Powerhouse [industrial regions of the UK].
“The issue would be that we simply couldn’t process the traffic in time, transaction times would lengthen.”
He warned that the migrant activity and strike action in France that impacted the ferry and Euro terminal in 2015 by making operations stack by over 30 days would come back “every day of the year” if the situation was not resolved.
Waggott recommended that an advanced IT passporting system for goods would be needed to speed the port processes up for the movement of cargo.
He concluded: “Two years isn’t a long time, IT systems take a long time to deliver.
“Certainly we will need some form of transitional arrangement to make this work.”
The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) recently warned that countless lorries full of wine could be parked in UK ports if ‘clear and workable mechanisms to allow cross-border trade’ are not in place the moment the UK exits the European Union.