Nusrat Ghani: ‘Maritime is the lifeblood of our economy — we are committed to supporting it’
‘As we look to reframe our relationship with the world, government is determined to work with industry to showcase all the UK has to offer,’ says UK shipping minister
In an exclusive opinion column for Lloyd’s List, UK shipping minister Nusrat Ghani hails the maritime industry as the lifeblood of global trade and pledges Brexit support for the sector ahead of London International Shipping Week
THIS week, the biggest trade event of the year, London International Shipping Week, is upon us. As a maritime nation, this is our time to showcase to the world what we have to offer as a global trading nation.
As the Maritime Minister, I am incredibly proud of what the sector has achieved in the past monumental 12 months — employing more than 185,000 people, carrying 95% of our exports and imports and generating £14.5 billion — our maritime industry truly is the lifeblood of our economy and keeps trade moving 24/7.
During the week we will welcome an unprecedented 20,000 visitors to the largest trade event in the UK this year.
This is a fantastic opportunity to send a strong message to the international maritime community about our ambitions for a Global Britain and to maintain the UK as one of the leading global maritime nations.
It also represents an unrivalled opportunity for the sector to secure fantastic trade for the UK, and to continue to promote our globally recognised reputation as the best place to do maritime business.
In recent months, both in our waters and abroad, we have witnessed first-hand, the importance of the UK Flag and I am proud that as a Government, we recognise our Red Ensign as a symbol of national pride.
While there will always be a range of factors at play, British flagged-vessels continue to uphold an outstanding international reputation, with the UK Ship Register ensuring that our vessels meet the highest possible standard and provide crucial security, training and certification for the thousands of men and women working aboard those ships each year.
The industry has always been steadfast in their praise for the UK flag and we have been working with them and listening closely to their feedback. We are now developing the UK Ship Register into a customer-focused flag, delivering services based on customers operational needs.
Over the past six months the UK Ship Register has also extended its eligibility to include the commonwealth, along with twenty other countries, many of which lay outside of the EU — bringing opportunities to expand into lively new markets across Asia, Africa and South America and build upon our international fleet.
This week, the UK Ship Register will launch its future plans for growth and a vision to become the world’s best performing international flag. While as a government, we are also committed to supporting the register and helping to steer Britain’s maritime industry to even greater levels of success.
We must not forget that we have already taken some huge strides over the past 12 months to ensure the sector will be able to meet the demands that lay ahead —including launching our Maritime 2050 strategy, laying out our vision for the sector over the next three decades and beyond.
As the first long-term maritime strategy this country has produced for a generation, it sets out how the sector can meet the maritime challenges of the 21st century. From how we harness technology, build a skilled workforce and, limit the sector’s impact on the environment. We recognise the scale of this challenge and that of course, we won’t see results overnight. But we have already made some significant progress in many areas.
In the midst of this changing world and, as we approach our departure date from the EU on October 31, we are committed to meet the demands and support our shipping industry to do the same.
But let us not forget the huge post-Brexit opportunities for Britain to develop a more global outlook, and with the support of our flourishing maritime industry, to strike new trade partnerships around the world and rise to the commercial challenges of the age, as we have done throughout history.