Experiencing London International Shipping Week - Mark Brownrigg: ahead of the Propelling World Trade Conference, 12 September 2013


With almost 70 events taking place, London International Shipping Week (LISW) has been a true showcase of what the UK has to offer global shipping and why it is the true, natural home of maritime business.

With the central conference and gala dinner taking place today, it is too early for a definitive round up of the week but I wanted to reflect on some personal highlights so far and look ahead to what we can expect from today.

My week so far:

My week started with a shipping round table at 10 Downing Street, hosted by Prime Minister David Cameron, on Monday – an event that kicked off proceedings with the clear message that Government recognises the serious contribution our maritime services make to the UK economy – and is prepared to work with us to keep our competitive edge in a global market. Chaired by former Shipping Minister and now Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, this was a rare and exciting gathering of ministers from five different government departments together with representatives from a dozen of the world’s most important shipping groups. 

Tuesday saw a number of VIPs and the LISW steering group sharing the podium as the present Shipping Minister, Stephen Hammond, officially opened the market at the London Stock Exchange. This ceremony is a globally recognised symbol of a world-class financial and business centre and it was tremendous to see the maritime sector at the heart of it.

On Wednesday morning Sir Alan Massey, Chief Executive of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, and I hosted a seminar at our offices at the UK Chamber. For potential international investors and global ambassadors, it focused on our quality UK flag and competitive tonnage tax regime. Taking place in the same week that Stena LNG announced the move of two of their ships to the UK register, this was a great opportunity to highlight what the UK has to offer.

This week’s events have been reflected by a number of key ministerial announcements, including:

• up to £3m increase in the Support for Maritime Training (SMaRT) fund
• the launch of Government and industry’s joint Strategic Partnership Plans for ports and shipping – with the third on maritime business services to follow shortly
• proposals for a January 2015 start date for the IMO review of the 0.5% sulphur fuel availability. 

Real Government confidence in the maritime services sector and its continuing growth has been matched this week by a survey of 175 industry leaders which revealed that 74% felt the sector will grow during the next five years. My industry colleagues and I look forward to continuing working with Government towards this strong future.

Expected highlights from today:

Today will see the central LISW Conference taking place at the spectacular Willis Building in the heart of the City of London, and the day promises a number of highlights.

I will be chairing two of the sessions – the first on maritime security, where the First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Sir George Zambellas, will discuss the future roles of navies and coalitions. The second is on the environment, and I look forward to key speeches from Tom Boardley, Marine Director at Lloyd’s Register and UK Chamber board member, and from the energetic Secretary General of the International Chamber of Shipping, Peter Hinchliffe.

Maritime security and the environment are consistently among the most critical issues for our members. With the rising threat to shipping in the Gulf of Guinea that saw over 950 seafarers attacked and five killed in 2012 alone, and impending sulphur regulations set to put 2,000 jobs at risk and add up to 87% to the cost of fuel from 2015, both are as needless as ever. It is therefore right that these issues are at the heart of today’s agenda and I expect lively presentations and discussion. 

Elsewhere at the conference the focus will be on propelling world trade through shipping and the business services sector. Senior industry leaders from the broking, insurance and banking world; as well as Lord Green, Minister for Trade and Investment, and Shipping Minister, Stephen Hammond will provide thought-provoking contributions on the role of maritime industries in helping drive the global economic recovery. 

At a time when so many are struggling through the economic downturn, the UK shipping industry is creating jobs and witnessing steady growth – UK employment, for example, has grown 6% since 2009. 

I look forward to today’s conference where 350 global delegates will hear how the UK shipping industry is working for Britain and why London and the UK are the best place to base maritime businesses.