NEW analysis identifies key employment sectors in Hampshire which could be especially affected if Britain leaves the EU, including aerospace and defence, maritime and shipping, and tourism and agriculture.
He wrote ahead of the June 23 referendum on whether the UK should stay in the EU, saying: “Aerospace and defence are worth some £1.2billion to the Hampshire and Isle of Wight economy, employing more than 17,000 people.
“Half of everything the aerospace sector exports is sold to the European Union, and because of complex cross-border supply chains, many companies rely on imported components from Europe to then export a finished product.
“Financial and business services are worth £4.5bn to Hampshire’s own economy, employing some 56,000 people, as well as many Hampshire residents who work indirectly or directly in London’s financial centre.
“One of the risks to financial services from a Brexit is the loss of the so-called ‘financial passport’ which has attracted many foreign banks to Britain, and in turn helps to support the wider professional services sector, including law and consulting.”
Mr Hinds added: “Agriculture is important in our area for environmental reasons as well as for its economic contribution.
“The EU accounts for 60 per cent of farming food exports. Seven out of the top 10 countries we export food, drink and feed to are in the EU.
“The default position is that the EU would apply its common customs tariff to produce from the UK and we would do the same the other way. Although subsidies currently administered through the EU could of course be replicated domestically, this cannot be certain.
“Tourism is a big export earner for Hampshire with world-class attractions such as Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, Jane Austen’s House Museum, Winchester Cathedral and the South Downs National Park. There are more than 600,000 international inbound visits to Hampshire per year; 65 per cent of all international visits to the South East come from EU-resident tourists.
“Of course this would not all end in the event of a Brexit, but could be eroded, especially with uncertainty over the future of the ‘EHIC’ tourist health insurance card.”
Mr Hinds went on: “Maritime capability has always been fundamental in Hampshire – commercially as well as militarily.
“The Port of Southampton will carry on being a very important hub in any event, but with almost half of all international freight through our ports being exported to a country in the EU, obviously the sector is exposed to the negative effect on trade volumes from losing full unfettered access to the single market.
“Even countries like Norway and Switzerland, which have a negotiated trade deal with the EU, are outside the Customs Union and must comply with so-called ‘rules of origin’.
“London and the South East alone have benefited from £11.1billion of inward foreign direct investment from EU members over the last five years, with more than 280 foreign investment projects in the region in that time from EU member states, which have created or safeguarded more than 17,000 jobs. Some 72 per cent of inward investors to the UK say that our membership of the EU is an important factor in their investment decision.
“The UK is one of the biggest recipients of European research, development and innovation funding and universities like Portsmouth and Southampton can tap into this. The University of Southampton is one of the top 20 recruiters of international students, according to UKCISA, and more than 15 per cent of teaching and research staff at British universities are non-British EU nationals.”
Mr Hinds concluded: “Hampshire has a number of really strong business sectors and, of course, these will still be strong sectors and big employers if the vote is to leave. But we would be exposing ourselves to uncertainty, foregoing inward investment and risking a key trading advantage. Sectors like tourism, aerospace and automotive have great growth potential and I want to see us maximise this opportunity, not limit our horizons.
“Leaving the EU would be taking a big risk on the economic growth we have seen over the last few years, with a record number of people now in work, and a highly competitive economy that is the biggest recipient of inward investment both in the EU and from the EU.
“Voting to remain is a vote for continuing to build on that success and ensuring we protect the funding we need for public services and can create the opportunities needed for the next generation.
“The EU is far from perfect, but on balance Hampshire is far stronger, safer and better off staying in.”
* Mr Hinds will be in Alton tonight to take part in a public debate on EU membership prior to the referendum. It will be held at the Assembly Rooms at 6.30pm.