On 11 October 2017, following the publication by the British Government of two White Papers on trade and customs, Maritime UK members met with Hilary Benn, chair of the parliamentary Exiting the European Union Select Committee of the House of Commons, to discuss the impact on the maritime sector of a potential no-deal scenario on Brexit in talks between the UK and the European Union.
The White Papers set out three strategic objectives: ensuring UK-EU trade is as frictionless as possible, avoiding a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, and establishing the UK’s own independent international trade policy. Moreover, they also include a contingency plan, in case the UK leaves the EU without a negotiated settlement (no-deal). Such event would see a number of new regulations and tariffs being imposed, with a strong impact on the trade of goods between the EU and the UK.
The maritime sector is responsible for enabling 95% of the UK’s global trade, supports just under 1 million jobs and contributes around £40bn to UK GDP. Given the importance of the maritime sector, the organisation favours a new and unique customs agreement between the UK and the EU. As stated by David Dingle, Chairman of Maritime UK, “… failure to secure a deal will not only see delays and disruption at ports like Dover, Holyhead and Portsmouth, but also in the EU at ports like Zeebrugge, Calais and Dublin…”.