As the representative of Liverpool city region’s £4bn maritime sector, Mersey Maritime has hundreds of members and is aiming to keep them informed ahead of Brexit. Tony McDonough reports
Industry body Mersey Maritime is offering a new online resource for its hundreds of members ahead of the Brexit deadline on December 31.
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring Mersey Maritime, which represents Liverpool city region’s diverse £4bn maritime sector, was pro-active in offer critical support and information for its members to help them through the crisis.
Brexit will impact UK businesses across the board but it will affect the maritime sector in particular as it includes those in the ports and logistics sector who are still unsure of exactly what will happen on January 1.
In response, Mersey Maritime chief executive Chris Shirling-Rooke said: “Similar to our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, to help our members we’ve launched a dedicated section of the Mersey Maritime website which includes essential resources and sign-posting to official advice.
“And we are also planning a special webinar with our key partners, Brabners and Robinson Rice Associates. This live and interactive event will explore some of the practical issues businesses at every level will face in the weeks ahead.
“While there will be a new playing field for sure, planning mitigation strategies and also preparing for the potential upsides for UK businesses makes this a multi-faceted subject. But the overarching message is that we must be prepared one way or another and that’s what we are determined to help our member businesses to do.”
Mr Shirling-Rooke said many of its members have already approached the organisation with practical questions and challenges. These include what will the impact be on supply chains? What are the implications for trade in goods and customs and for those who trade in services?
How will businesses deal with their workforce and personnel requirements? What are the practical challenges around regulation, compliance, tax, finance, legal and contracts and IT systems and data?
“It feels like we’ve been here before. More or less this time last year, with the general election on the horizon, there was massive uncertainty around whether or not the Withdrawal Agreement would be signed and the UK would start the formal process of leaving the European Union.
“To an extent that uncertainty still exists but the clock is definitely ticking. The clear view of the Government is that the transition phase will come to an end at the end of the year, come what may, with or without a comprehensive free trade deal.
“The negotiations are at a crunch point and we may even learn more on a day to day basis before the end of the month. ‘Red lines’ exist on both sides of the debate and it is pretty hard ball at the moment.
“But if there’s a willingness to do a deal on both sides, let’s hope this comes to pass. We do need both the UK Government team and the European Union to give us all a sense of direction and certainty, the lack of this simply isn’t good for business.
“Regardless, the message for our members is that they must be prepared and plan as best they can for various scenarios that might come about.”