Experiencing London International Shipping Week - Kenneth MacLeod: LISW round up and looking ahead
We have come to the end of a hugely successful inaugural London International Shipping Week where hundreds of people from around the world gathered, across dozens of official events, to hear why the UK is a natural home for maritime business.
Though we won’t know the full extent of the week’s success in business and investment terms for some time, there are some initial conclusions that can be drawn and some definite achievements to celebrate.
The volume of activity from the week has been staggering – a huge wealth of functions, seminars and receptions totalling almost 70 official events across the city of London. I myself have attended a number of excellent events and had the pleasure of speaking at a Merchant Navy Training Board reception showcasing UK excellence in seafarer skills and training, something close to my heart and very timely given my recent call to Government to allow shipping companies to be able to include ratings trainees as part of their tonnage tax commitment.
Yesterday's conference - Propelling World Trade - had a really successful mix of speakers and delegates from across sector - and across the world. Speakers included Koji Sekimizu, Secretary-General, International Maritime Organization (IMO) who talked about sustainable maritime development; Dr Martin Stopford who talked about the future of maritime economics, First Sea Lord Admiral Sir George Zambellas on maritime security and Tom Boardley, Marine Director at Lloyd’s Register on new technology for the next generation of ships - to name but a few.
There was no shortage in the volume of visitors this week, with over 300 delegates from across the globe attending the ‘Propelling World Trade’ conference and more than 600 at the gala dinner last night. Maritime UK’s own Lancaster House reception on Tuesday gathered 350 industry leaders and Government officials – including Mayor of London Boris Johnson – and other events saw similarly impressive turnouts.
Of course quantity is all well and good, but quality is crucial too and the significance of the announcements made, profile of those involved and valuable event outcomes have been just as important as their numbers.
Over a dozen Government Ministers, from all relevant departments and up to the very highest levels – the Prime Minister himself opened proceedings – were involved in the week. Visitors too included the great and the good: shipping magnates, international ambassadors and attaches from around the world descended on London to see what the UK had to offer.
The mass of events included such notable highlights as Monday’s round table meeting for industry leaders and Government Ministers, including Prime Minister David Cameron, at 10 Downing Street; and LISW officially opening the London Stock Exchange on Tuesday. These significant events mark our industries recognition at the top of the political agenda, and the centre of the financial world.
Among the array of speeches and presentations, several significant announcements have been made this week. For me, one outstanding development was the news from Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, that the Support for Maritime Training fund would be increased by up to £3m – supporting up to an additional 200 trainees a year.
I started my career as a junior rating in a ship’s galley and am delighted that as a result of that announcement, more young people will have the chance to follow in my footsteps and build a career in a global trade. It is a great vote of confidence from Government on the ability of the maritime sector to create UK jobs and we look forward to continuing to prove them right.
Though we can afford to revel in the successes of the past week a little longer, it is good to look further ahead and I fully expect London International Shipping Week to become a regular fixture of the industry calendar.
Maritime UK published results of a survey of 175 industry leaders at the start of the week, and there is plenty to be positive about as we go forward:
• 85% agreed that the UK is a globally competitive place to do business
• 74% said the sector will grow during the next five years
• 70% said that the UK economy was moving in the right direction.
Government matched this vote of confidence with launch of the shipping Strategic Partnership Plan on Monday, outlining key priorities for maintaining a vibrant, quality and sustainable shipping industry and cementing the strong relationship between industry and government.
On behalf of the UK Chamber and my industry colleagues, I greatly look forward to continuing working together to keep London a maritime hub, and drive the growth of our industry for the benefit of the UK.