Wednesday, 11 January 2017
Coming Brexit changes are not necessarily all bad.

It is fallacious to think that Brexit is the end of the good times. It’s certainly the end of the UK’s relationship with the EU but it is inconceivable that mutually beneficial bilateral relationships with all European countries now comprising the EU and others still outside will not continue and develop further. However the uncertainty that derives from the manner of the UK’s withdrawal is bad. The sooner there is clarity the better. However some things are becoming clear. Yachting businesses need to position themselves to maximise the benefits and minimise any negative effects.

The UK is committed to ending free movement into the UK. It is also therefore likely the the EU27 will also impose limits on the free movement of UK citizens into the EU. Visits by UK citizens to EU countries are likely to be curtailed at 90 or 180 days at most. This will limit the amount of time that crews of UK flagged yachts can remain in EU ports. This limitation already exist today for Australian, US and other nationalities. If this is enforced there is likely to more movement from EU ports to non-EU ports, such as Gibraltar, in order to reset the clock.

The UK’s continued membership of the EU Customs Union is also in doubt. VAT regulations will change for UK owners. If EU regulation remains unchanged UK flagged yachts will need to abide by the “Temporary Importation” regulations that limit the amount of time that non-EU flagged vessels can remain in an EU port. Once again this will present an opportunity for British ports to become a place of refuge as the 18 month temporary importation period expires. This happens today in Gibraltar for non-EU flagged boats but one can imagine a veritable fleet of UK flagged boats joining those too. There will be a need for many more yachts berths at Gibraltar.

The purchase of EU manufactured yachts are likely to become more expensive for two reasons. Firstly Brexit has caused a devaluation of the Pound and secondly it is conceivable that there could be an import duty on EU27 manufactured yachts on importation to the UK. These two effects should provide a boost for the UK yachting industry. Now is a good time to acquire an EU manufactured yacht before prices rise further.

Over the coming months the fog will lift and those that are nimble and creative will win out in the new regulatory environment that emerges. It is in no ones interest to create barriers that hamstring an industry that provides a massive contribution to the the UK’s and EU27 economies’. I am optimistic that the changes that are coming will inject new dynamism and creativity into an already vibrant sector.