Shipping, ports and maritime business services are at the heart of the UK economy. We move 95% of the UK’s international trade, support 537,000 UK jobs, contribute £32bn to GDP and pay £8.5bn in tax – all because the UK is known across the world as the best place to do maritime business.
But that status is under threat. Shanghai, Singapore, Dubai and Hong Kong are all aggressively seeking to take that business from us. If our economy is to thrive, we must not let them.
Next week, London will welcome Chairmen, CEOs and senior figures from across the world, operating in every field of maritime business, to see for themselves what makes the UK special. Ministers from across Government will have the opportunity to listen to, and learn from the investors our economy relies upon. It is an opportunity that they must take.
Our long and proud history as a maritime nation has provided an unrivalled wealth of expertise, passed on through the generations that no emerging economy could ever hope to replicate. So it is right that we use our maritime past to create our maritime future.
The world’s largest shipping companies, most innovative port operators, and the most comprehensive list of ship finance, insurance, broking and legal firms are all to be found here – underpinned by a level of expertise, integrity and thought-leadership that cannot be found elsewhere.
But in times past, the UK has been too quiet in promoting its greatest strengths. London International Shipping Week marks a new chapter, where we openly market ourselves to the world – where we stand together to say we do not just want to compete in the global race, we want to win it.
But if we are to build the environment where winning new investment is possible, we need an end to political point-scoring on taxation, skills and training. Instead, we must develop a mature, cross-party consensus that commits to making the UK the most competitive place in the world. If that happens, new growth and quality new jobs will follow. London International Shipping Week, we hope, will begin that process.
By fighting to keep the UK at the heart of international trade, we are doing our part both for the UK economy, and its standing in the world.
The UK is open for maritime business – in the coming days we will prove it.
Head of Maritime UK