Shipping bosses keep fingers crossed for UK PM meeting
Industry leaders confident Britain's shipping and maritime industries can thrive after Brexit
TOP shipowners and other maritime industry leaders are hoping to meet UK Prime Minister Theresa May during a visit to 10 Downing Street for a round-table discussion with government ministers at the start of London International Shipping Week.
Chairing the meeting will be UK Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling, but business chiefs hope the Prime Minister will also be there for some of the time to hear about the contribution of the country’s maritime sector to the UK economy.
An update on the size of the entire industry, and the revenues it generates, will be published during LISW when the UK showcases its maritime services and expertise to the rest of the world.
But the delegation to 10 Downing Street is also expected to include shipowners from abroad who regard London as one of the world’s leading maritime centres.
During the last LISW, in 2015, Mediterranean Shipping Co founder and chairman Gianluigi Aponte joined a top-level meeting with former prime minister David Cameron at a time when his cruise company was expanding in the UK and entering ships into the tonnage tax system.
Two years on the big story is Brexit, but Britain’s maritime bosses say they are confident that the UK’s plans to quit the European Union will not cause long-term harm to the sector.
The conversation during the meeting with Mr Grayling is likely to centre on how to protect the country’s very competitive and attractive business environment for shipping companies in order to ensure they remain based in the UK and continue to expand, according to LISW steering committee chairman and former Baltic Exchange chief executive Jeremy Penn.
Brexit will not be specifically on the agenda, said Mr Penn during a breakfast briefing ahead of LISW, which starts on September 11.
Nevertheless, Britain’s shipping community will be pressing for a transition period of two or three years following the country's formal departure from the EU, said UK Chamber of Shipping chief executive Guy Platten.
“If there is a hard border with customs checks at ports in the UK and on the Continent, that will lead to gridlock,” he warned.
“It’s really important that we have a transition deal leading towards longer-term customs arrangements.”
However, both Mr Platten and Mr Penn said there had been no evidence that members of either the UK Chamber or the Baltic Exchange were leaving the UK because of the Brexit vote.
“The overall picture from the shipping industry perspective is its global strength,” said Mr Penn. “The detail of EU membership is quite minor in terms of the UK’s global position in shipping.”
This London International Shipping Week, join Lloyd’s List and industry leaders, from fuel suppliers to financial institutions and legal practitioners, to discuss strategies needed to avoid risk pitfalls.
Monday September 11, from 1400 hrs at 8 Northumberland Avenue.