Good evening ladies and gentlemen and thank you Jim for that warm welcome.
While I come with apologies from Stephen Hammond, Shipping and Ports Minister who is currently overseas, I do have some personal interests in Maritime matters as the port of Newhaven sits in my constituency.
You may have heard recently that a statue of the communist leader Ho Chi Minh has been given to Newhaven, a town he is thought to have visited whilst working as a pastry chef on the cross-Channel ferry between Newhaven and Dieppe after World War I.
This route has operated for over 173 years. Lord Salisbury travelled on it to reach his home in France, and Lord Lucan allegedly used it to escape from the country. Apparently his car was found abandoned at the port.
With my departmental hat on I recognise the important role maritime business plays in today’s global economy and for the UK. With that in mind I am very pleased to be with you at this evening’s launch of what promises to be an exciting opportunity: London International Shipping Week.
Maritime and the UK economy
Both parties in the UK coalition government firmly share the view that shipping is an engine for the economy and, it is a resilient one.
Good regulation is of key importance to shipping and to quality flags such as the UK. We recognise the Maritime Labour Convention as representing the fourth pillar of international maritime regulation. It has always been the intention that the UK would ratify the Maritime Labour Convention and I am pleased to inform you that our ratification is expected to be formalised next week by the International Labour Organization
Shipping and the wider maritime sector provide great opportunities for jobs and for investment, playing an important role in the growth agenda and the UK’s continuing economic recovery.
The maritime sector currently contributes up to £14 billion to the UK economy. Despite the recession, employment in shipping has continued to grow from 73,000 jobs in 2004 to 146,000 in 2011 – a 100% increase.
From a UK perspective, our quality flag, attractive tonnage tax regime, strong competitive ports, our expert maritime services based in London and our vibrant maritime training maritime programmes…
…together enable the UK maritime sector to thrive and grow despite the global economic downturn.
We have a stable regulatory framework, and benefit from our central timezone which means we can do business with both sides of the world in the same working day. So the UK is in a fantastic position to be able to promote our skills and products on a global level.
We know the UK has a lot to offer the global shipping community. Put simply, it is a great place to do maritime business.
Government and industry partnership
The contribution of the maritime industry to the life and economy of the UK is fully appreciated at the highest levels of government. And we know that if the maritime industry is to keep growing – as it must – it’s vital that we continue to work in partnership with industry.
The coalition government is keen to foster a closer and more co-ordinated partnership with both shipping and the wider maritime industry – based on mutual understanding and shared objectives.
To help achieve this in the UK, the department has established a maritime strategic partnership. This will bring together for the first time key government departments and industry champions to focus on maximising growth and opportunities while maintaining a stable fiscal and regulatory environment.
We welcome London International Shipping Week as another opportunity to demonstrate the close working partnership between government and industry.
London International Shipping Week
We have heard from Jim about this country’s significant history as a seafaring nation. It is clear that London is the historical home of, and leading contemporary centre for, shipping and maritime services despite increasingly strong competition from Singapore, Shanghai and Dubai.
So when the idea of London International Shipping Week was first proposed we knew we wanted to get involved with this key, inaugural global maritime event, to showcase what the UK maritime sector has to offer, and to strengthen even further London’s prominent global position and reputation.
And so we are pleased to fully support this week. In particular the UK government is hosting, with Maritime UK, a welcome reception in Lancaster House as one of the key events.
In addition, ministerial colleagues across government will be involved in a wide range of events that are taking place over the week, which is shaping up to be a really exciting opportunity to boost world trade.
To sum up, we know the UK has a lot to offer the global shipping community.
We have a proud maritime heritage. We continue to build on this, maintaining our strong position in today’s global market and securing for the future the UK as a great place to do maritime business.
London International Shipping Week is a great opportunity and we look forward to seeing you in September where you will see for yourselves just what we have to offer…