Posted on: 30 September 2016
Maritime London and Norton Rose Fulbright LLP organised a joint seminar on 28 September held in Norton Rose Fulbright’s top floor Terrace Suites.
Harry Theochari, NRF global head of transport and Maritime London vice-chairman said that the adverse effects of Brexit on the international shipping industry could turn out to be “not very much”.
Neither the rights of UK shipping to call at EU ports nor that of EU ships to call at UK ports would be impeded by Britain leaving the European Union. The real change will be in respect of “taxes, duties and tariffs,” he pointed out, depending on the UK’s exact exit scenario.
The effects on the availability of ship finance and other maritime services in the UK were thought to be minimal, with most banks and insurance companies still able to provide cross-border services via overseas subsidiaries. “Few institutions would choose to quit London”, said Theochari, “because of the city’s centuries-old maritime tradition and leading expertise in areas such as ship brokerage, law, accounting, insurance and maritime education.”
Possible opportunities resulting from Brexit would include the fact that “for the first time in a generation the country would be able to negotiate its own trade agreements outside the constraints of EU State Aid restrictions,” he continued.
Another opportunity would be to review the UK’s Tonnage Tax regime, which is currently “not the best in the world” but revamping it could attract more shipowners.
Michael Jürgen Werner, a Brussels-based NRF partner warned that any new UK assistance to the maritime sector would need to comply with international trade law and with EU anti-dumping rules, however.
Doug Barrow, Maritime London chief executive said that a lot is being done to upgrade the UK Ship Register in order to make it more client-focused.
Two speakers from the Department for Transport – Rod Paterson, head of maritime growth implementation division and Lola Fadina, joint head of maritime safety and environment division (EU and Safety) – outlined the work that the government is currently doing preparing for Brexit.
In reply to the question about non-dom rules Rod Paterson said that “this was an issue the government was aware of”, calling on the industry to work together to provide evidence of the impact of the new regime. He stressed that to date no submissions had been made with regards to this.