Maritime growth study: keeping the UK competitive in a global market

This speech was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Speech launching the maritime growth study, which will assess the UK maritime industry and identify options for making it more competitive.

The UK – with its proud maritime history and tradition - has a long held claim as the epicentre of maritime trade.

As an island nation, the UK relies hugely on the maritime industry to sustain our everyday lives. About 95% of the goods by volume that come into and out of the UK, are handled by our ports. Our access to food and fuel, our success in global trade, all depend upon a strong and effective maritime transport network, and skilled workforces to sustain it.

With our one-stop-shop of maritime business services, our central GMT location, our respected flag, and world-renowned maritime expertise.

Britannia has for many years ruled the waves around her.

But there is a danger that the UK’s maritime crown will slip.

The great politician, and a long-standing hero of mine, Benjamin Disraeli, once said that “in a progressive country change is constant; change is inevitable”.

Competition from Singapore, Denmark, Germany, Hong Kong, has made it increasingly important that what the UK offers, continues to satisfy what the market needs. What the market demands.

And as a progressive nation, the UK needs to anticipate and lead inevitable changes in the maritime world.

So I am very pleased to be with you today to launch the government’s maritime growth study: keeping the UK competitive in a global market.

The study will focus wholly on the UK’s maritime industry, with the ultimate goal of putting the UK firmly back in front as a world-leader in the maritime space.

I am delighted to announce that Alderman Jeffrey Evans will be taking the helm as chair of the study. Jeffrey is a much admired and respected leader in the maritime world, and I’m very pleased to have him on board.

I am also pleased that Michael Parker has accepted the role as leader of an industry advisory group. The group will be an essential ‘critical friend’, offering wise counsel and support to the main study.

This is an important step for the UK.

It is not just about our reputation on the world stage. It’s about taking the right steps to ensure that the UK is at the forefront of maritime trade in the future.

For Disraeli also said that “we are not creatures of circumstance; we are creators of circumstance”.

We need to continue to attract global companies to do business here.

We need to continue to encourage the best and brightest people to forge their careers in the UK maritime industry.

Not only will the study examine the UK strengths as a maritime nation, it will identify those areas where we collectively need to up our game to be able to compete - and lead - on a global scale. This, of course, is something that the MCA has already turned its mind to with its work to modernise the UK Ship Register, a project of great relevance to the study – it is a pleasure to see Sir Alan here tonight and I would like to thank him and his MCA colleagues for their ongoing commitment and hard work.

Change means fresh thinking, it means modern approaches, and above all, an ambition to constantly evolve and improve.

I know that everyone in this room - you, the leaders of the maritime industry - have that ambition in spades.

Evidence is vital if we are to make sound decisions that will deliver change for the better.

And as a first step, we will soon be issuing a call for evidence, and I encourage everyone in the industry to engage in that process.

This will really be a once in a lifetime opportunity to steer the UK back on course as a world-leading maritime nation.

I am confident that the study will have a long-lasting legacy, and I really am delighted to have so many of you here to celebrate its launch. I sincerely thank Lloyd’s Register for kindly hosting this evening’s reception.

Thank you.