So, a post-Brexit trade deal’s been done. Even by the EU’s standards agreement was left to the last minute and so ends four and a half years of Brexit uncertainty for Hull. This itself is cause for huge celebration for Hull’s business community. While, as we shall see, the deal isn’t as good as the trading arrangements we enjoyed as members of the EU, our new status does avoid many of the headaches a no deal exit would have presented and offers some of the opportunities leavers voted for.
In this new blog from Coversure Hull, Hull’s leading commercial insurance brokers, we’ll look at what the deal means for the following key local industries:
• The Port – overall this is great news though checks will cause delays. It also leaves the door open to Hull becoming a free port and could usher in a new golden age
• Haulage – while no deal would have been a disaster, these arrangements will mean more paperwork and delays as checks on goods come back into force. The question of EU drivers also remains, but given we have tariff free access its good news
• Technology – the city has a booming technology sector, one that inevitably requires the transfer of data. At the time of writing a temporary ‘adequacy’ agreement has been reached, so for the time being data can keep flowing
• Farming and food processing – a big sticking point – especially when it came to fishing rights – food exports will continue to be tariff free. EU fishermen will continue to fish in UK waters, but catches will be reduced by 25%. Again, this is a positive outcome for Hull, particularly given the rebirth of the fishing industry since 2018
Brexit Deal: The Devil In The Detail?
Behind the sound of champagne corks popping (Downing Street) and sighs of relief (the rest of the UK), are nervous whispers of whether the devil will be in the detail of this deal. At the time of writing some things remain unclear and, to be fair, some details are still being finalised.
To offer some clarity, here’s our assessment of what the deal means. The following is based on our many years of providing commercial insurance cover to these sectors and our knowledge of the challenges they face.
• The Port of Hull – the port has been a notable success story in recent years. Allied British Ports have invested millions in upgrading the facilities and now everything from fishing boats to container vessels can dock here. The deal that’s been done doesn’t allow for the same free movement of goods as we’ve enjoyed up to now and that means checks and more paperwork. As we’ve seen in the last few days, ports like Dover can quickly snarl up if delays occur and that could drive more business to the Port of Hull.
The other big opportunity is if Hull becomes a free port (one where goods can be landed and loaded, and the duty paid at the final destination). The Government has recently opened the bidding on these and if Hull were to become one it could bring in millions in new busines and bring some of the predicted 86,000 new jobs to our city. Add to this the new trade deals with nations such as Japan and Singapore – both of which could be serviced by Hull – and from this perspective, Hull’s post-Brexit future could be rosy.
• Haulage – as you’d expect from an area that has a port and significant farming and food processing industries, haulage is big business. Truck insurance is a speciality of ours and our conversations with hauliers over the past year or so have revealed huge concerns for the future. A lack of export market access (43% of all UK exports go to the EU), hefty tariffs or hard borders would all have been a disaster. These, thankfully, seem to have been avoided. And while there remains a question mark over EU drivers and whether they will continue to return home and exacerbate the shortage of drivers, the deal signifies another area for relief.
• Technology – while the adequacy issue (finding a set of data protection rules that both sides are happy with) remains, technology industries can also take comfort from the deal. Siemens, for example, have long warned of the outcome of no deal and how it could threaten future investment. The German manufacturer has poured millions into the area and made it one of the world’s leading wind power centres. The deal should secure its future on the Humber and help attract more environmentally friendly businesses as Hull becomes a green city.
• Farming and Food Processing – with the likes of Cranswick, Andrew Marr, AAK, and William Jackson, food is a multi-billion-pound industry round here. Throughout the negotiations farming and fishing were regular sticking points as both sides had a lot to lose. The deal that’s been done is cause for celebration. We’ll be able to catch and process more fish as there will be 25% less caught by EU fishermen. We’ll abide by EU standards so our reputation for food excellence won’t wane – something that will stand us in good stead in new export markets – and we’ll continue to have access to the Single Market.
The question that no one seems able to answer, and which has already begun to trouble UK farmers, surrounds labour. An amazing 99% of seasonal farmworkers come from the EU and businesses have come to depend on them. In the difficult 2020 harvest the shortage of labour caused by a post-referendum exodus was acutely felt. Whether these workers will now return, its hard to say. Relations between us have become amicable again and a level of certainty and security is on offer. Only time will tell…
Brexit Deal: What It Means For Hull
While 67.6% of people in Kingston-upon-Hull voted to leave, few could’ve have predicted how long it would take, the pain that would be involved or the level of uncertainty it would generate. Even fewer could imagine the complexities of unpicking a four-decade long relationship and less still – even as recently as the autumn – could say for certain that a deal would be done. It’s been a long, hard road, one that’s affected many of our insurance customers – be they fleet, truck, or landlords.
With a deal done and certainty returning I think we can all look forward to a brighter 2021. There will be challenges. The prime minister has said the road will be ‘bumpy’ as we come to terms with our new arrangements and new relationships, but if the past decade has shown us anything it’s that Hull can overcome and thrive.
As a small business owner, I’m relieved. Uncertainty is toxic and with this massive cloud of uncertainty off the horizon, we can all look forward to a brighter future together.
Founder Coversure Hull
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