A string of giant US corporations including American Airlines, Nike, Ford and FedEx have issued a volley of panicked warnings about Brexit as nerves fray across the Atlantic.
The jittery statements lay bare growing fears of political chaos, uncertainty and major economic upheaval in Britain and will pile pressure on Theresa May’s Government, which is already besieged by bosses at home.
Several UK business leaders have spoken out in recent weeks to voice alarm over Westminster’s handling of the split and the shape of a final deal.
Warning: FedEx said it fears Brexit could result in a ‘global economic downturn’
But most big US firms have so far kept quiet. The fears raised by American companies such as Texas-based American Airlines and Nike, with headquarters in Oregon, are significant because they are warning only on the potential impact on profit. The firms are unlikely to have any significant political interest.
American Airlines last week told its investors it is worried that Brexit could jeopardise its ability to fly passengers and cargo in and out of London’s Heathrow Airport.
The company said the implications of the withdrawal are ‘unclear’ and the impact on its business ‘cannot be predicted’.
Currently, the ‘open skies’ agreement between the US and EU provides airlines with unfettered access to each market. American Airlines said a new regulatory framework may need to be drawn up to allow it to continue operating.
Global delivery firm FedEx said it fears Brexit could result in a ‘global economic downturn’. It said the UK’s trade with the EU and elsewhere could stall if it loses free trade agreements.
Nike named ‘uncertainty surrounding the effect of Brexit’ as a key threat
FedEx also warned that Brexit could create new regulatory costs in Britain. Car manufacturer Ford, which employs 13,000 people in the UK, raised the spectre of further political turmoil in Europe and expressed concerns over the ‘stability’ of the EU. It said these fears have been ‘exacerbated by Brexit’.
Ford also echoed FedEx’s point that the UK could lose access to free trade agreements on imports and exports with the EU and other countries.
Sportswear brand Nike named ‘uncertainty surrounding the effect of Brexit’ as a key threat in a statement to investors on the risks to ‘global trade and doing business abroad’.
PayPal, which is used by millions of internet shoppers to make payments online, voiced fears that Brexit could destabilise financial and foreign exchange markets across the world.
American Airlines last week told its investors it is worried that Brexit could jeopardise its ability to fly passengers and cargo in and out of London’s Heathrow Airport
Several warnings have also been issued by US pharmaceuticals companies that sell medicines to Europe. They are worried that the UK may diverge from EU drug regulations, which would drive up costs if treatments had to be put through two sets of tests and checking.
Catheter-maker Merit Medical warned that Brexit could ‘affect our ability to sell products in certain EU countries and in the United Kingdom’.
Tiziana Life Sciences, which specialises in the treatment of cancers and autoimmune diseases, condemned the ‘lack of clarity’ around Brexit. It told investors that Brexit could see a fall in foreign investment in the UK, increase costs and depress economic activity.
Akari Therapeutics, which fights rare autoimmune diseases, said Brexit is a threat to the UK’s status as a ‘leading centre for business and commerce’.
Software development firm Luxoft said it is ‘unclear when exactly the UK will exit and on what terms’ and blamed politicians for the uncertainty.
Engineering firm Altra Industrial Motion, which has five UK factories, expressed fears that Scotland – where the majority voted Remain – could push for another independence referendum, potentially harming its business.