MSC Cruises boss Pierfrancesco Vago says the operator is working closely with the UK government on Brexit amid fears over implications for global maritime regulation.

Speaking in the line’s spiritual home of Sorrento in Italy at this week’s annual ITT conference, the operator’s executive chairman said the entire sector is regulated according to British maritime law.

Vago questioned whether there would be time for bilateral deals to be done with every other country in the world and said Brexit could make the current British-based regulatory system invalid.

MSC and other cruise lines are working through the UK Chamber of Shipping with the UK government on what Brexit means for shipping.

“We are all very much engaged, we are very much part of the process,” he said.

“It’s very complex. Sometimes there are questions that can’t be answered so it’s very important we are part of the process.

“The common denominator for shipping in general is the British law, that’s what regulates shipping. Britain from the legal side may have to enter bilateral agreements with everyone else, that makes the shipping law system invalid.

“If we have all the lawyers in the world working to make bilateral agreements to make British law available to the world, two years will not be enough.”

Vago said Brexit could also be a challenge to travel in general due to visa restrictions and border control. “The freedom of movement is everything,” he said. “It’s how everything should work.”

Vago said he was very proud that the growth seen in the cruise sector in recent years has created so many jobs for people from around the world. Globally the sectors sustains nearly one million employees including 360,000 in Europe and 73,000 in the UK. MSC has switched its technical base to the UK to take advantage of British expertise where today it directly employs 250 people.

“This is an industry that creates jobs. That makes me very proud. That’s what Europe needs, that’s what the world needs,” Vago said.

He added the ultimate aim for the next generation of cruise ships was to for them to have zero impact on the environment. The lines recently announced next class of ship, which will be the world’s largest, will be powered by LNG.