With the UK voting to leave the European Union following the historic Referendum, what effect will ‘Brexit’ have on our trades?
The British people voted by a narrow majority – 51.9 per cent to 48.1 per cent – for the UK to begin extracting itself from the EU, a process expected to take around two years to complete.
Stock markets initially tumbled, sterling fell in value and many were decidedly nervous the morning after the vote on June 23rd but things have stabilised somewhat since then.
However, what does this historic decision mean for the shooting and fishing trades?
Certainly, those who buy and sell guns in the UK are unclear about what will happen next and what effect it will have on their business, long-term.
Edward King, managing director of ASI, which imports AYA and Rizzini guns, Crosman airguns and a number of other products from around the world, said: “The only certainty we have is that of the currency: sterling has lost value against a basket of currencies, notably the dollar and the euro.
“Effectively, this means that the products that we buy are more expensive and will consequently go up in price at ‘street level’. Of course, importers will have bought currency forward for a period of time and this will offset the loss of value, but the principle is there.
“The EC5 transfer document, which has worked quite well for both importers and exporters, is likely to change but what the new arrangements will be no-one knows. In the immediate, it seems to be a case of ‘business as usual’, albeit with rather more volatility in the value of the pound.”
Karl Waktare, who runs distributor GMK, part owned by the Italian Beretta Group, added: “The three biggest, non-controllable, factors affecting our business are legislation, the strength of the economy and the exchange rate.
“The first factor is hopefully not going to change and maybe we have taken a step to greater control of this where shooting is concerned. The second factor is a big unknown; the UK has certainly taken the risky option. The exchange rate is also likely to be volatile over the coming months, which makes planning very difficult.
“Had we voted to remain the pound would now be soaring and I am pretty sure the forecasts for growth would have been much more positive. However, we are where we are and need to make the most of our situation. The UK is still a great place to do business and we have one of the strongest economies in Europe – and the fifth biggest in the world.”
John Batley, director of the UK’s Gun Trade Association, said: “Firstly, we are now in a situation we have never faced before and are therefore completely in the dark as to how events will unfold.
“Secondly, and with reference to the EU Regulation on de-acts, the proposed new EU Firearms Directive and the UK Policing & Crime Bill, these issues are all directly linked to one another.
“If the pound falls against other currencies, exports will benefit but imports will suffer. Many of our civilian firearms and other goods come from the EU and these will be more expensive in the UK gun shops. If this is the future then our part in the UK economy may suffer as people may buy less.
“Equally important could be the lack of free trade in the EU and restrictions on the free movement of goods to and from the 27 remaining Member States. At present we have a simple import and export system between EU dealers and our RFDs, which is based on EU transfer arrangements. We have no idea how this may change when we are no longer in the EU.
“Having said all this, let us never forget that we are a resilient people and others in the EU will want/need to continue to buy from and sell to their long-standing partners in the UK.”
Fishing for a deal
For those in the tackle sector, many are rolling up their sleeves preparing to do battle…
Fly and fly fishing equipment supplier Dragon Tackle is one of those companies concerned at what happens next. It is a big exporter of flies and exhibits at the European Fishing Tackle Trade Exhibition (EFTTEX) each year.
Boss Terry Clease told T&G: “I am totally against Brexit – this company has been trading all over the world since before we ever joined the European Union!
“Joining the EU in the first place made things much easier for us – in fact, I believe it was the best thing we ever did.
“Now, though, I think it will prove harder to export tackle – there will be more red tape and bureaucracy. We will get round all the it, of course, but it won’t be as smooth trading conditions as before.”
Terry also has experience of dealing with two current non-EU countries nearby, held up by the Leave campaign as ‘shining lights’ – Switzerland and Norway.
“Selling to both of these countries is problematic to say the least – there is certainly extra paperwork and everything is more expensive.
“Granted the drop in sterling has helped me at present with European sales but this won’t outweigh the difficulties if or when we finally leave. Indeed, if that day comes, I may need to look at relocating the business!”
On another tack, the Angling Trust, which handles the sport in England, has pledged to fight for the best deal for fishing.
Chief executive Mark Lloyd said the trust will:
* press for existing EU environmental legislation such as the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, Water Framework Directive and the Habitats Directive, all of which are written into UK law, to be maintained in full to protect fish and habitats.
* argue for sensible regulation of agriculture and for subsidies to be linked to the achievement of improved outcomes for the water environment.
* fight to ensure any arrangements for sea fisheries management benefit both fish stocks and recreational sea anglers.
* encourage individuals, clubs and fisheries to join the trust and Fish Legal to strengthen its number for campaigns ahead.