A new report commissioned by trade promotion body Maritime London has set out 36 detailed recommendations to grow the UK's $6bn marine insurance, ship broking, legal, finance and classification industries. The UK has long been the global leader for professional maritime services, but faces increasing competition from centres including Singapore, US, China and Norway. The global market for maritime services is estimated to be worth $20bn.
Published today (9 September) at the start of London International Shipping Week 2019, Catching the Wave authored by the consultancy PwC in support of the UK Government's Maritime 2050 Strategy provides a detailed roadmap of industry and government actions needed to strengthen the UK's position in the maritime professional business sector. These recommendations include growing the UK's base of international ship owners and charterers, extending leadership in technology, supporting green ship finance activities and increasing the UK's talent pool.
Maritime London Chairman Lord Mountevans said: "This detailed report should inspire industry and government to build on the strengths of the UK maritime cluster and seize new opportunities. The global market for professional maritime services is worth $20bn and is growing. We must work together to enhance the UK's leading position as the world's top maritime services cluster. Changing trade patterns, new vessel types, digital technologies and green solutions all offer us the opportunity to grow our market share, expand our businesses and increase our contribution to the UK economy."
The report's initiatives are grouped under six headings:
1. Strengthen the core of ship owners and charterers: recommendations include the appointment of a government 'shipping czar' to drive a campaign to attract more ship owners and charterers to the UK.
2. Deepen the UK lead in specialist segments: the UK has a significant lead in maritime disputes and insurance. Recommendations include the development of legal frameworks for AI, autonomous vessels and carbon emissions to strengthen this position.
3. Rebuild the UK's position in ship finance: the UK has a marginal presence in ship financing following the exit of RBS and Lloyds from the market. Recommendations to revive ship finance include achieving dual listings of large shipping companies on the London Stock Exchange; developing London as the leading offshore centre for RMB based ship leasing and greater sector outreach to the deep pool of UK based institutional investors.
4. Extend the UK's lead in technology: measures to improve the adoption of digital technologies by the maritime sector including the creation of a government and industry backed fund focused on supporting innovation and the designation of maritime as a priority sector within existing government schemes.
5. Increase the talent pool: the availability of skilled staff is a key driver of success for the maritime cluster. Ensure that post-Brexit visa and immigration rules mean that UK firms can recruit the best international staff as well as measures to increase the number of merchant officers, increase diversity and further internationalise the UK's maritime colleges.
6. Enhance cluster effect benefits: the positive effect of having multiple maritime service providers in one location needs to be further enhanced. Recommendations include working more closely with other European clusters, proactively engaging with developing economies and virtual clustering initiatives.
The report's authors say that delivering the recommendations will require both government and authors to work closely together to implement them through a combination of work with the Department of Transport, the Treasury, the Department for International Trade and maritime associations.
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