Thursday, January 24, 2019

Release of Maritime 2050 Intends to Show How British Shipping Will Lead the Way

Insurance, Transport Law, Finance and Autonomy Are All Targets for the Future
Shipping News Feature
UK – The government has today launched the long vaunted Maritime 2050 Report, the comprehensive long-term strategy plan intended to maintain Britain's nautical pre-eminence in an increasingly competitive and technologically driven field. After a public consultation last year the authorities say they have striven to develop a close partnership with industry after recognising the increased importance to this British Isle's future success in the context of the UK leaving the EU, with 95% of all UK trade being enabled by the maritime sector.

The government says that Brexit has raised the profile of the sector, not least owing to national debate on the UK’s future trade relations. Whilst the sector is determined to manage the UK’s departure from the EU as smoothly as possible, it is also focused beyond Brexit. The consultation, managed by Maritime UK, apparently showed that industry believes there are significant opportunities to foster innovation in new technologies like autonomy and clean growth and attract more maritime business to the UK.

The government admits that Maritime 2050 is published at a time when the UK faces intense competition from maritime nations in the Far East, Northern Europe, Gulf and North America and needs to illustrate how it intends to drive coastal economic development to create a coastal powerhouse and grow a skilled and diverse workforce, both objectives which the consultation revealed as goals. Critics will point out that, certainly in the short term, the current tendency is for seafaring jobs to be exported, with companies re-flagging vessels to the EU and cutting costs by using foreign registered crews, surely a trend that needs reversing.

The government’s prospectus says the UK is regarded as the world’s leading centre for maritime services, such as maritime law, finance, insurance, management and brokering, and that Maritime 2050 is designed to maximise UK strength in this area, retaining and enhancing its competitive advantage and developing new areas to compliment the offer, like green finance.

Whether this report will engender any confidence, promoted as it is by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, is open to question. Views on Brexit expressed when the consultation first opened are likely to have been radically modified given the position taken by politicians of all hues in the past few months. Maritime 2050 is likely to be seen more as an aspiration rather than a blueprint for the future. It claims to illustrate the value of trade, and the unique responsibility maritime has to ensure the UK’s island nation has the food and energy it needs, hardly points the shipping sector need reiterated.

Maritime 2050 also says it ‘demonstrates the power of trade to lift people out of poverty’, also hardly an innovative insight. Maritime UK, which issued the call for evidence, recently saw Harry Theochari, a transport lawyer, take the Chair, and the report says that future strategy will be founded on seven core ambitions, demonstrating bold and aspirational objectives: UK competitive advantage; Technology; People; Environment; Trade; Infrastructure; Security and Resilience.

These seven ambitions promote key developments to ensure optimum benefits and progress such as:

  • Leveraging the UK’s competitive advantage in the provision of maritime law, finance, insurance, management and brokering
  • Strengthening our reputation for maritime innovation, harnessing benefits to the UK from new maritime technology
  • Growing our maritime workforce and transforming diversity in the sector
  • Leading the way in taking action on clean maritime growth
  • Promoting a liberalised trading regime
  • Working with academia and government to strengthen and enhance the existing networks across the sector
  • Continuing to be recognised as the global leader in maritime safety and security standards and expertise worldwide

On the release of the report today, Harry Theochari, Chair of Maritime UK, said:

“For the first time the maritime sector has a real long term strategy, setting out what government and industry will do to position the UK as the world’s leading maritime nation over the coming decades in an increasingly competitive global context. The UK is a maritime nation and our island, maritime status, is part of who we are. 95% of British imports and exports in goods are moved by sea, including 25% of the UK’s energy supply and 48% of food supplies.

“There are monumental opportunities for our sector, whether on technology, coastal economic development, attracting more maritime business to our shores or for the people that underpin our success. The global ocean economy will double in value to $3 trillion by 2030. Competitor maritime nations are hungry for the prize, and Maritime 2050 will ensure that the UK is best-placed to capitalise.

“Growing the maritime workforce, those that our maritime success and national prosperity relies upon is a smart move, too. Productivity is over 50% higher than the national average, so maritime can play a real role in helping address the UK’s productivity challenge. The task of turning these ambitious recommendations into reality rests on the strength of partnership between industry and government. Industry is committed to delivery.”