Well the results are in and as usual I think the majority of Gibraltarians voted remain vis a vis Lib Dem. To no avail however as the UK as one tended toward the Brexit Party, yes as a protest vote and no however the MSM spin it it still indicated the majority of UK want away. But. What does this mean for businesses in Gibraltar?
It is no secret some businesses has moved headquarters to Malta (EU) and some others have downsized leaving a part of their operation here but why do they feel they need to if as our Chief Minister Fabian Picardo says “we are still open for business!”
So what does it actually mean at this point? In terms of finance there has already been a lot of dialogue particularly involving Spain who has already attempted several nuances of literal dexterity to advantage in some way its claim to the Rock. Recently the Government of Gibraltar told a European Parliament committee that the finance industry in Gibraltar is essential to the economy of the Rock, and that the industry was resigned to a loss of access to the EU market but had been given firm assurances that Gibraltar would have greater access to UK markets which will bring opportunities, including “automatic access to the United Kingdom in banking, insurance, investment services and any other similar area where cross-border directives currently apply. This is useful but would it satisfy the kind of requirements that brought some of these businesses to Gibraltar originally? There is no doubt if we were dealing with Andalucia and not the Government of Spain we would hands down be supported. Gibraltar puts somewhere in the region of €800M a year into the Campo de Gibraltar and next to the Junta de Andalucia is the areas second largest employer, not bad for a country 6Kms in area. We spend some €73M across the border shopping eating and having fun and 50% of our workforce is from across the frontier.
Loss of access to the single market could affect Gibraltar in several ways, air travel possible but unlikely, certainly the frontier access will be disrupted whether by happenstance or simple action by the political masters in Madrid. It is vital this access is negotiated and free flow is maintained. Cross border workers can get to work, goods can cross the border, bunkering operations continue and economic growth is maintained as usual along this 2-way street. Will common sense prevail? We are talking about politicians… aren’t we?