Independence caused a stir

THE long-awaited vote on the Scottish independence caused a stir among international maritime players.

According to Moore Stephens’s recently conducted survey of the international shipping community members on the impact of the vote, over half of respondents (55 per cent) felt the vote could have a negative effect.

The results of the survey showed that, overall, the majority of those who predicted negative effect had an existing business relationship with Scotland, while those respondents with no existing business relationships with Scotland thought that a Yes vote would have a positive effect.

However, 74 per cent said they had no plan of action if Scotland voted to abandon the Union, indicating a high level of confidence in a No vote, according to the survey.

Cassie Forman, Moore Stephens director of Shipping and Offshore Maritime, said: “The shipping and offshore maritime industry is a vital part of the Scottish economy — it plays a critical role in the North Sea oil and gas industry, for example. It is an industry that will play a central role in the economic fortunes of Scotland whatever the outcome of the vote.”

The UK Chamber of Shipping has raised various issues concerning shipping that should be addressed by Scotland, should the majority vote Yes.

According to the UK Chamber, obvious questions include establishment of a separate ship registry, taxation of shipping, followed by potential introduction of work permits and trade restrictions, seafarer training standards along with funding and provision of marine safety infrastructure (coastguards, lights, emergency tugs etc).

Having in mind that not too many ships are calling at Scottish ports, the Chamber President Ken MacLeod, was quoted by BBC as asking: “Are ships calling at a Scottish port going to have to pay four times the dues that they pay at the moment?”

The Scottish Government said that these issues would be addressed in a form of consultation with relevant stakeholders after the referendum.

The future of the oil and gas sector are also a key issue in the debate.

Energy and research consultancy group Wood Mackenzie says the issues to be addressed in the event of a ‘Yes’ vote include fiscal (un)certainty, the offshore boundary and regulatory change.

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