In a resource and labour-rich economy, deterring foreign imports with a weak currency would give a huge boost to domestic businesses (and indeed, this was the motivation behind Trump's statement today that the US$ was overvalued). But in an island economy which has always looked to other parts of the globe for its resources and labour, unless British consumers are willing to start asking serious questions about where their products are coming from, Brexit is taking the last shred of hope from our hardworking domestic businesses, and handing over full control to foreign companies and criminals.
Sound over dramatic? It's not.
As the British Pound continues its seemingly unrelenting slide, the medical devices market - particularly small medical devices, which were already being sold at miniscule margins - is just one area that is being hit hard.
To state the obvious, no electronic medical devices are made in Britain. Even European and American companies, such as Nonin (known mainly for Nonin oximeters), perform their manufacturing in the Far East. This means that all oximeters, Dopplers, blood pressure monitors, handheld ECG machines and so on, are imported into the UK and therefore purchased in foreign currency - invariably, US$.
A 20% fall in the value of the Pound therefore equates to a 20% rise in the price of these imports for British companies. With the prevalence of Chinese sellers on high-profile marketplaces like eBay, already with a 20% price advantage even pre-Brexit due to the almost universal practice of tax evasion (underdeclaration of imports into the UK to avoid import VAT), raising prices simply is not an option - so how can British businesses afford to keep sourcing the best medical devices, and add value for their customers with support and warranties?
A few eBay sellers seem to have come up with a solution: cut value, and import counterfeit products.
One example of the rise of unethical sellers
The Sonoline B is a hugely popular foetal Doppler device, and thousands of customers trust Contec Medical's reputation for safety and reliability. This is never more important than when transmitting ultrasonic waves to one's unborn child. Yet, eBay's current top seller stocks fake Sonoline B foetal Dopplers manufactured by Jumper Medical and not Contec (whose patent they are infringing), clearly caring little for the law, let alone safety or certifications.
This seller, and a number of others, even display an image of the back of the monitor in their product listing, stating that it is CE certified by Wellkang Ltd. - yet Wellkang have a statement on their website declaring that they do not CE mark any Jumper Medical products. Read the full Wellkang statement against Jumper Medical products here.
Because these sellers are able to price their fake Sonoline B several pounds cheaper than the real thing, they have achieved hundreds - in some cases, thousands - of sales, far beyond that of genuine stockists. How many parents know enough about the market to realise that they are buying an illegal, counterfeit product, with a fake CE certificate and unknown electrical safety or ultrasonic outputs, to use on their babies?
Should eBay do more to protect people?
When listing medical devices for sale in the litigious USA, eBay goes to great lengths to verify that the product is FDA registered and cleared. For the British market, however, there is no such protection.
eBay's VeRo scheme exists for reporting patent infringements, and indeed, Contec have been trying to report fraudulent sellers in letters like this one:
... But it is an uphill battle, particularly when the most eBay will do is pull down the listing, but will not remove the seller from eBay (leaving them free to relist the item again).
If you question nothing else, question your heathcare products
In a market where HMRC pumps infintely more resources into chasing its domestic businesses for a few hundred pounds, whilst turning a blind eye to import VAT fraud to the tune of of millions, foreign sellers and tax evaders already had the upper hand. After Brexit, their advantage has been given an unprecedented boost. Unless the British people start to ask questions about where their products are coming from, Brexit looks less and less like vote for patriotism, and more like a nighttime intoxicated stumble along Beachy Head.
The British public now need to direct their universally admired skills of well-researched decision-making from their voting to their purchases. Whichever side of the Brexit fence people were on, the vast majority would agree that the domestic economy, British business, British jobs, and the quality of our healthcare are a priority.