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London calling: Forget the Brexit bluster, let’s focus on the international itinerary

There are significant industry questions to be answered and few of them are geographically specific. The real value of shipping week events lies in the collective wisdom and willingness of participants to get down to the business of answering them

While there will be ample opportunity for the Maritime UK contingent to make a valid pitch for business and the political speeches to offer a nervous domestic lobby some reassurances, the real focus for London International Shipping Week should be outwards at the international issues not inwards at the UK

FEW of the myriad challenges facing shipping right now are geographically specific. Indeed, most are not shipping specific at all, such is the macro nature of our industry. So when the shipping week tour bus pulls up in London on Monday amid a Brexit brouhaha currently dominating the domestic debate, arriving international executives could be forgiven a small sigh of apprehension.

Such anxieties, we hope, will be misplaced.

The international element of London International Shipping Week’s agenda thankfully looks set to trump any inward meltdown that the UK sector may currently be working through with their therapists.

While it will be impossible to promise that visitors will be able to completely escape the gravitational pull of Brexit, as democracy crumbles around us and we hurtle towards a no deal, with metaphors of large difficult to manoeuvre tankers that much more pertinent to the maritime crowd than most, there is at least a sense that bigger issues must be tackled.

The busy agenda seems to be determined to look beyond the Brexit chaos and work on the assumption that global trade will not grind to halt on October 31 and the shipping industry will do what the shipping industry does best and find solutions amid uncertainty.

And for that we should be thankful. The rise of domestic lobby groups and proliferation of “shipping week” events promising to stage an international showcase for their respective clusters have subtly changed focus over recent years and London should be leading the way. Frankly, it has little choice to do otherwise.

The disruptive headwinds of digitalisation, decarbonisation, regulatory and financially enforced transparency, shifting macro-economic demand and good old-fashioned outside competition, all promise to challenge the status quo for everyone. There are significant questions to be answered and if these shipping weeks have a value it lies in the collective wisdom and willingness of participants to get down to the business of answering them.

While there will be ample opportunity for the Maritime UK contingent to make a valid pitch for business and the political speeches to offer a nervous domestic lobby some reassurances, the real focus should be outwards at the international issues not inwards at the UK.

The programme of events, debates and round tables looks promisingly challenging in that regard. In between the alcohol-fuelled canapé senates there will be substantive discussion on everything from Artificial Intelligence to free trade zones.   

As the host for the week’s centre piece conference, Paddy Rodgers, told Lloyd’s List in this week’s podcast, LISW will not answer the unanswerable but it can offer a creative environment for developing ideas and opinions that are taken on to workable solutions for some if not all ills.

He suggests that guests leave their pre-prepared positions and ‘statements from the floor’ at home and come prepared to engage in genuine open debate — advice we can only wholeheartedly support and encourage here at Lloyd’s List.

The packed and overlapping schedule means that nobody will be able to attend everything, but there is at least something there for everyone (and Lloyd’s List will be there to cover anything you’ve missed).

If we could be so bold as to offer up a few highlights not to be missed we would, of course, start with our own Transparency in Shipping Forum that will set the agenda first thing Monday. Full details and the opportunity for a last-minute registration here, but if you are at all interested in risk mitigation around sanctions, data confidentiality and standardisation (with views from the industry’s leading law, insurance and security experts), then this is the breakfast briefing for you! If you’re not, we would question whether you have fully understood the problem.

The Lloyd’s List editorial team will be up on-stage moderating panels, in the audience taking notes and at  the receptions reporting, and eating canapes, throughout the week. And we are particularly looking forward to the International Chamber of Shipping’s conference on Wednesday where we will be present behind the scenes recording exclusive interviews with various speakers.

And get ready for a series of London International Shipping Week special editions of the Lloyd’s List Podcast. The Lloyd’s List team will be out and about armed with microphones next week and we will be producing a daily edition of the podcast from the sidelines of the events, offering you exclusive access to the most important discussions of the week.

You can listen to all our podcasts for free on Lloydslist.com, or better still, subscribe to the Lloyd’s List Podcast via iTunes and Spotify, as well as most other podcast providers. And while you’re there make sure you are registered for a free account on Lloydslist.com so you can receive our Daily Briefing e-mail.

All our coverage from the week’s events will be going up on a special LISW page where content will be free to read.  

As a final plug — if anyone would like to talk to us about editorial issues in general, or would like to engage our colleagues from Lloyd’s List Intelligence about how to get the right shipping and vessel information to support your teams, we would love to buy you a coffee or set up a quick demonstration of our data capabilities.

First port of call should be to register for our Forum on Monday, where the entire team will be on hand to talk, but if you have a specific question, feel free to contact me direct on Richard.meade@informa.com and I will be sure to connect you with the right person.

We wish you a productive week and hope to talk to as many of you as possible over the coming days.

 
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