UK Chamber calls for ‘Free Trade Commission’ in wake of Brexit

UK Chamber of Shipping statement on the outcome of the EU Referendum

The UK Chamber of Shipping remained neutral on the question of the UK’s membership of the EU but we recognise the decision of the British people.

The chamber has always argued that the shipping industry is resilient by its nature.  Shipping moves 95% of the UK’s international trade and we don’t see that changing.

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.

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

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.

Leaving the European Union is a process, not an event, and that process has to be managed carefully.  David Cameron’s decision not to immediately invoke Article 50 is a welcome one, and there should be no rush to do so for his successor.  First we must get our chess pieces in place.

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 chamber highlighted a series of key policy areas that will need attention from the government before the UK leaves.  These include:

  • Visas and work permits
  • Border controls at ferry and cruise terminals
  • Various fiscal arrangements including Tonnage Tax 
  • The future of EU Navfor and collaboration of European navies to counteract piracy and support rescue activities in the Mediterranean sea