Six steps to increase UK maritime services industry’s competitiveness

The UK has long been the global leader for professional maritime services, but faces increasing competition from centres including Singapore, US, China and Norway.  The global market for maritime services is estimated to be worth US$20 bn.

A new report commissioned by trade promotion body Maritime London and authored by PwC has set out 36 detailed recommendations to grow the UK’s $6 bn marine insurance, ship broking, legal, finance and classification industries.

Maritime London Chairman Lord Mountevans said: “This detailed report should inspire industry and government to build on the strengths of the UK maritime cluster and seize new opportunities.

“The global market for professional maritime services is worth $20 bn and is growing.

“Changing trade patterns, new vessel types, digital technologies and green solutions all offer us the opportunity to grow our market share, expand our businesses and increase our contribution to the UK economy.”

Recommendations

1. Strengthen the core of ship owners and charterers

Recommendations include the appointment of a government ‘shipping czar’ to drive a campaign to attract more ship owners and charterers to the UK.

2.    Deepen the UK lead in specialist segments

The UK has a significant lead in maritime disputes and insurance. Recommendations include the development of legal frameworks for AI, autonomous vessels and carbon emissions to strengthen this position.

3.    Rebuild the UK’s position in ship finance

The UK has a marginal presence in ship financing following the exit of RBS and Lloyds from the market.

Recommendations to revive ship finance include achieving dual listings of large shipping companies on the London Stock Exchange; developing London as the leading offshore centre for RMB based ship leasing and greater sector outreach to the deep pool of UK based institutional investors.

4.    Extend the UK’s lead in technology

Measures to improve the adoption of digital technologies by the maritime sector including the creation of a government and industry backed fund focused on supporting innovation and the designation of maritime as a priority sector within existing government schemes.

5.    Increase the talent pool

The availability of skilled staff is a key driver of success for the maritime cluster.

Ensure that post-Brexit visa and immigration rules mean that UK firms can recruit the best international staff as well as measures to increase the number of merchant officers, increase diversity and further internationalise the UK’s maritime colleges.

6.    Enhance cluster effect benefits

The positive effect of having multiple maritime service providers in one location needs to be further enhanced.

Recommendations include working more closely with other European clusters, proactively engaging with developing economies and virtual clustering initiatives.

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