Events created ‘a buzz well beyond expectations’ The main aim was to tell the world that the UK is open for maritime business.
EARLIER this month, I was privileged to be part of the inaugural London International Shipping Week, a hugely successful initiative supported by Maritime UK and the Department for Transport to bring together the international maritime community and remind us all how great the UK maritime offer really is.
Given the government’s desire to grow and promote the UK maritime industries, ministers from the DfT and other departments were pleased to support as many of the week’s events as possible.
Our main aim was to tell the world that the UK is open for maritime business.
High-profile industry figures and government representatives from more than 50 countries attended over 60 events during the week.
These included a wide range of themed seminars, receptions, visits and dinners, in locations as varied as 10 Downing Street, the London Stock Exchange, a Royal Navy frigate, a boat on the Thames and too many others to mention here, but all significant in scope and well organised.
The government kicked off International Shipping Week on the Monday with a ministerial and industry roundtable attended by Prime Minister David Cameron.
That morning, the DfT published its ports and shipping strategic partnership plans, showing how government and industry are working together to promote growth.
Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin then announced a 25% increase in SMarT, the maritime training budget funded by government.
We also published Open for Maritime Business, a joint industry and government publication setting out what the UK has to offer the global maritime community.
Tuesday further underlined how government and industry are already working closely together. I co-hosted a lunch with the International Maritime Organization to discuss the future availability of low-sulphur fuel to drive down pollution from ships.
That evening Patrick McLoughlin helped to host a hugely successful welcome reception at Lancaster House with Maritime UK, attended by international maritime industry leaders, fellow ministers David Jones, Michael Fallon, Simon Burns and Norman Baker, and London Mayor Boris Johnson.
The event created a lively networking opportunity for business leaders, many guests clearly relishing the opportunity to engage with influential industry professionals.
Wednesday was a day to welcome our international guests at a shipping reception hosted by Secretary of State for Wales David Jones. That evening I also gave a reception for international delegates on board the impressive HMS Northumberland, bringing guests together with government and industry heavyweights to discuss the benefits of doing business in the UK.
Attendees included the Greek minister of merchant marine Miltiadis Varvitsiotis and senior representatives from China, France, Italy, Russia, India and the US.
The week ended for me on the Thursday with the pleasure of addressing the Shipping Week conference. This was a great opportunity to listen, debate and learn, hearing from professionals across maritime industries and from across the globe.
The grand finale was a gala dinner, a 600-strong gathering to celebrate everything the week had to offer and its resounding success.
Feedback has been excellent, many delegates, visitors and UK maritime leaders enthusing about the positive exchanges during the week and the opportunities created.
Very simply, it was an outstanding success, creating a buzz well beyond expectations. I am sure this will resonate for some time to come.
Nothing breeds success like success and maritime has again become a real success story for the UK economy: the UK merchant fleet, employment in shipping and the size of the service sector have all grown strongly despite the downturn.
We are determined that the UK should remain the world’s pre-eminent maritime centre and develop further as a most attractive environment for maritime investment.
This can only be achieved through a strong partnership between government and industry, based on mutual respect and a shared commitment to growth — and that is precisely what we are developing here in the UK.
The body of ministers and industry champions that I chair is already generating positive initiatives and I am proud of what we have already achieved. The strength of this active collaboration was vividly on show throughout the week and I look forward to building further on these important achievements in the future.
By Stephen Hammond
Lloyd’s List, Wednesday 2 October 2013
Stephen Hammond is the UK shipping minister