Monday, September 11, 2017

London International Shipping Week 2017 Kicks Off with Government Promises  

No Concrete Sign of Extra Funding However Despite All the Aspirations for Brexit

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Shipping News Feature UK – The Government kicked off London International Shipping Week 2017 (LISW) with Transport Secretary Chris Grayling hosting a meeting at 10 Downing Street to reveal government post Brexit plans for the industry. The minister says Britain will be the best country in the world to do maritime business with after the split with Europe and that there will be 'an ambitious plan' formed in cooperation with industry to maximise new trade opportunities and significantly grow the UK's maritime sector.

Mr Grayling has pledged to shortly announce the plans for a public discussion to help shape and promote the future of the maritime industry both up to 2050 and beyond. This vision will look at how the government can support future growth in an industry which itself directly supports at least 111,000 jobs and contributes around £15 billion to the UK economy each year.

As usual though there seems to be a lot of talking round the situation with no concrete promises of cash support and much looking to business to improve the situation. There is a call for instance for employers to double the number of apprentices they employ in order to boost skills, jobs, and productivity across the UK, without any further details as to how they are to achieve this.

According to Mr Grayling this follows on from the publication of the National Ship Building Strategy which is simply naïve. The strategy refers exclusively to the policy for constructing Royal Navy vessels, something which is paid for from government funds. The merchant marine sector, privately funded, is a completely different industry whereby the choice usually depends solely on price, a field which over the generations has moved from the UK and other European countries to various competing Asian rivals. Mr Grayling however is upbeat, saying to various unspecified industry leaders:

“Leaving the European Union will allow Britain to seize new opportunities and rediscover our heritage as a truly global, seafaring, trading nation. Our maritime industry, far from being a story of the past, is a thriving success story – worth around £15bn a year to our economy and supporting a quarter of a million jobs. This government is determined to work with the maritime industry to help it grow significantly and make the UK a world leader for shipping business.”

LISW 2017 is however well supported by the government, kicked off as it is by Shipping Minister John Hayes ringing the bell at the Stock Exchange has senior delegates from at least 50 countries attending, including more than 15 foreign ministers from the likes of Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Ghana. The week, which features over 150 functions and is expected to host 15,000 industry guests, will see the government host bilateral meetings with politicians and senior business figures to explore partnerships, future opportunities outside the European Union and how to help significantly boost maritime exports. John Hayes commented:

“London International Shipping Week is the most special and extraordinary promotional opportunity for the maritime industry in recent history. For the UK to seize the promise and the opportunities after our exit from the EU we must draw on our glorious past, by rejuvenating our heritage to once again be a truly global, seafaring, trading nation. We must, in Churchill’s famous phrase ‘choose the open sea.’”

Thursday September 14 will see Dr Liam Fox MP deliver the keynote address at the flagship LISW17 conference to be held at the Grosvenor House Hotel on London’s Park Lane The International Trade Secretary will speak about the future of international trade and its impact on the global shipping sector and will be followed by a gala dinner which will be attend by an estimated 1,000 industry leaders.

Photo: To see how little relevance the government’s shipbuilding strategy has to the freight and logistics sector this Factsheet, published by HM Stationery Office, demonstrates the point admirably.

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