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This Week by Len Port: Troubling times for traders

brexitLenThe ‘debate’ over next month’s referendum on whether Britain should stay in or leave the European Union heated up so much this week that it is starting to look like civil war.

It seems to be tearing apart the British Tory government and indeed the whole country. A wider worry in the event of a Brexit is the collateral damage in Portugal and other EU countries.

Brexit cheerleader Michael Gove says leaving would be “an empowering moment of patriotic renewal.” 

The Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, evoked fury in the Brexit camp on Thursday by saying that leaving might spark a recession. Then the IMF’s Christine Lagarde weighed in on Friday by saying she had “not seen anything that's positive”  about Brexit. Her remarks were dismissed by Brexit supporters as “nonsense.”

Lots of strong opinions continue to be aired, but in truth no one knows for sure what a Brexit would bring. No country has ever left the EU before.

Amidst all the internal rhetoric, scaremongering and false forecasts, a calm but concerned outlook emerged this week from the British Portuguese Chamber of Commerce in London.

Founded in 1911, the BPCC is an independent, non-profit organisation devoted to promoting commercial links between businesses in the United Kingdom and Portugal.

The UK is one of Portugal’s major export destinations, with almost €3 billion worth of goods going there every year. Few countries do more business with Portugal.

The BPCC reports that research conducted by international shipping experts ParcelHero concludes that the impact of a Brexit on this market could be huge. It could have serious implications not only for Portuguese traders, but also consumers.

“It’s impossible to overstate the importance of the EU to Portugal’s trade with the UK,”  writes Keegan Spindler, a member of the consumer research team.

“The free movement of goods has allowed British companies to be competitive in the European market, and the cost of shipping in the EU is significantly lower than shipping to European countries that aren’t part of the Union, such as Switzerland or Iceland.

“Our research suggests that by leaving the EU, the cost of goods imported to the UK from Portugal could change by as much as 30%. That price change comes from a variety of factors that include raised shipping costs, duties and taxes and handling costs.”

Such a price change would make Portuguese goods less attractive to British consumers and reduce Portuguese manufacturers’ abilities to compete on price in the UK market.

Most Portuguese small to medium enterprises are likely to look elsewhere for their customers if Britain leaves the EU, but those who don’t will have all new challenges to deal with, among them paperwork, customs clearance and duties and taxes. Furthermore, the United Kingdom will no longer be a competitive target for the logistics industry, which is likely to mean that shipping costs will rise significantly, according to the study.

The UK is expected to be separated from countries like Portugal by a lot more red tape, making it a much less attractive proposition for international businesses.

“Our data suggests that the UK’s departure from the EU would likely force many SME’s who trade in the country to find new markets for their goods or be forced to quite literally pay the price. Similarly, a Brexit would see the cost of importing in to Portugal from the UK increase, and as Britain is one of Portugal’s biggest importers, it could be the consumers who end up paying the price.”

None of the above will apply, of course, if the Great British public decide on 23 June that voting for Michael Gove’s “empowering moment of patriotic renewal” would in fact be akin to a catastrophic moment of total madness.

Which way will it go? No one probably knows better than the betting bookmakers. Paddy Power’s latest odds:

*  2/5 in favour of remaining in.
*  15/8 in favour of exiting.



Len Port has been a journalist for 50 years, working as a staff reporter, broadcaster and freelance correspondent for many leading news organisations. He covered events in the Far East in the Sixties, and in Northern Ireland and South Africa in the Seventies. Since moving to Portugal in the early Eighties, he has edited regional magazines, contributed to national dailies in Britain and written several books, two of which are currently available as ebooks with Amazon.

See: http://algarvenewswatch.blogspot.pt/

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-2 #6 Dierdre 2016-05-15 06:57
Malcolm and his kind do us all a service in returning constantly to the Portuguese African Colonies and what happened to its alleged 'Empire' over the centuries.

This is not a history of any relevance to other countries except Spain which also had its alleged Empire pruned by later, stronger, arrivals. But it is fundamental to getting any kind of understanding of the Portuguese angst today. Otherwise you will be bounced out of the country without comprehension.

Ex-British Empire citizens must get used to asking in bars or cafe's for a Beer or Coffee 'and a chat about the Pink Map'. When in the Municipal getting planning permission make a point of saying to clerical staff - 'Remember, no Pink mapping on this, I need to get building in this lifetime not the next' So keep mentioning the (Portuguese) Discoveries and ask every Portuguese you meet "How is it global history now tells us that so much of the world was already discovered in earlier times but Portugal continues to claim it was the first Discoverer?"

Many Brits now see it is a cesspit that we all unwittingly step into. But we need to keep warning new arrival foreigners as it shrinks briefly in daylight and maybe overtime some antidote can be found. Could the IMF scientists devise something?
0 #5 Charly 2016-05-15 00:01
Gentlemen, as everything is so bad and so wrong may I
ask you for what good reasons you are and stay residents in this funny country called "Portugal" ?
And another question: are all the (real) experts that recommend today the UK should stay in the EU to be considered as clowns, stupid people, ignorants or maybe debils ?
-1 #4 Jeff Harris 2016-05-14 19:45
Its quite striking how the Portuguese MEP at the Algarve Brexit discussion referred to the Brexit campaigners being the “last act of the (British) Empire.. Ignorant Portuguese !

What UK British has any idea at all of an Empire - it has not been taught in the UK for many decades and few British could list more than 15 countries in the 53 nation Commonwealth group? Unlike the Portuguese for whom it is still so alive - the British Empire has not been taught in the UK for nearly 100 years ! At best it is described now as the British Commonwealth. Many of whose countries are the regional leaders in economic development and human rights. In the G20 - which Portugal isn't.

Does anyone in their right mind refer nowadays to 'a Portuguese Empire' and whatever it has now mutated into - keeping a straight face?
+1 #3 Malcolm.H 2016-05-14 16:17
The Portuguese must be applauded for their contribution over the last 30 years for energising the current Brexit campaign. How many thousands of British have returned to the UK totally disillusioned from their dishonest treatment by so many natives of what is supposed to be a fellow country in the European Union ?

A total failure by so many Portuguese 'professionals' to follow even the most basic concept of a Duty of Care destoyed so many dreams in a country so retarded that Lisbon's issuing of Brussel's regulationsare still entirely meaningless to local oligarchs out in the regions pursuing their own selfish activities - with only minimal tax declaration at best.

A schizoid country nursing an outlandish 130 year old grievance against the UK; holding an over powering sense of inferiority so neurotic that it cannot be voiced in any other language than Portuguese. Certainly NEVER IN ENGLISH ! So strong though that it is repeatedly found in all Portuguese History Books.

But in a country, Portugal, so backward that foreigners / strangers is the only classification of non-Portuguese. No idea whatsoever of the racial, ethnic or religious type.

As often asked by British expats - where are the legal, licensed British businesses in Portugal that so many expats intended ? Exactly what tens of thousands of expat Portuguese are working in and for in the UK - today?
0 #2 Chip 2016-05-14 15:43
So an international shipping company reckons that Brexit is bad because it will create more paperwork for them. Quelle surprise. It will cause paperwork for immigrants too!

And I love Mark Carney's warning that post-Brexit the UK will face a recession. Has he not noticed that every country in the EU has been in recession and suffering austerity measures for the last 10 years? Is he not aware that the European Bank is printing money as fast as it can? That the Euro is on the point of collapse (cue Greece)?

Another fatcat who benefits from the UK staying in trotting out the Project Fear party line.

I'm voting OUT!
+3 #1 Charly 2016-05-14 08:36
Did somebody ever had the guts to ask the Queen's opinion about thtis weard situation ?

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