The CEO of the UK Chamber of Shipping has said the next two years will be a great time for the nation’s maritime industry to lobby for policy change while the UK exits its membership of the European Union (EU).
“There is a bit of uncertainty for people, we know that, but also what it presents is an unprecedented lobbying opportunity,” Guy Platten told Splash today, speaking a week after the UK voted in a referendum to leave the EU (a so-called ‘Brexit’).
“Trade is at the heart of all this, shipping moves that trade, therefore shipping is at the heart of all this, therefore our industry is going to have a lot more government time than it’s had for ages and ages,” said Platten.
“Whatever your views are, we’ve got to deal with the reality – shipping has got to roll with the punches and crack on.”
The job of the UK Chamber going forward will be to help the nation’s maritime industry exploit every opportunity that might arise post-Brexit, the CEO said.
“We want to ensure that in any negotiations we maintain free trade and freedom of movement – we think that’s really important. We want the UK to be the most competitive place to do business and we want to be champions of free trade around the world,” said Platten.
“Whatever happens, any new trading relationship is at least two and a half years away because it’s six months before they’ll press Article 50 and then there’s two years of negotiations. Businesses have got time to adjust and they’ve got time to lobby and to influence and get the best possible deal and that’s really the focus of the Chamber,” he continued.
Platten says the Chamber has been in conversation with the UK’s minister of transport Robert Goodwill and other officials about what the Brexit will mean for the nation’s maritime industry.
The Chamber has stated it is “ready to assist” with shaping shipping policy and will share its expertise on topics such as tonnage tax, implementing the Maritime Labour Convention, border controls and so on.
“We said that to the minister on Monday evening – we stand ready to help,” said Platten, adding that the minister is very keen to hear the views of industry.
Meanwhile, the UK Chamber’s policy team is working on a “manifesto” for publication in September this year. The document will be used in any negotiations that come in the future and will outline what makes the UK’s shipping industry more competitive than others.
“We’re working really hard and consulting with our members to identify where those opportunities may lie and find out what would be in the interests of the wider shipping community,” said Platten.
“We were a great maritime nation a week ago, and we’re a great maritime nation now,” the CEO said. “It ain’t going anywhere.”