Posted on: 20 December 2019
Maritime London’s raison d’être, as you will know, is to ensure the UK remains a leading provider of maritime professional services, and a world-beating location to conduct maritime business.
As an association, we keep our overheads to a minimum, with a modest office and a small (but perfectly formed) secretariat, so I hope this review of 2019 will demonstrate we continue to deliver genuine value to the membership. Of course, we are totally reliant on our subscription income for our revenue funding and remain grateful to our growing membership for continuing support.
I will also take this opportunity to thank our excellent board, spearheaded by our chair Lord Mountevans and all those who have proactively supported the association this year.
The UK and the maritime industry are both on the cusp of significant change. The ESG agenda, the changing BEPS regime, decarbonisation and of course our changing relationship with trading partners around the world, have great potential for the UK to grow our share of the global shipping market and retain our preeminence in maritime professional services. We now have a government able to make decisions and while we still have the trade negotiation with the EU to go, one hopes the certainty the market craves is not too far away. We must also remember as demonstrated by the recently published ‘Catching the Wave’ report, the fundamentals of the UK and our industry are good. With a few tweaks, many of which Maritime London is actively pursuing, I am very confident we will have an offer that will compete with any jurisdiction in the world.
Key to retaining our pre-eminence is thought leadership and we continue to explore the effects of the primary issues facing the market – in 2019 we ran over 20 events from lunchtime seminars to multi-day conferences on issues as diverse as looking at the application of big data in marine casualties to the increased role of London in the facilitation of an increasingly diverse ship finance market.
In its 4th iteration, LISW has become a crucial tool in the promotion of our world-leading professional services offer. The Week puts London and the UK firmly in the spotlight of the commercial shipping industry. And this year Maritime London was not only central to the organisation of the week, particularly the main conference, but we also ran six separate events in conjunction with members focusing on some of the leading issues in the market and showcasing London’s expertise. We hosted delegations from Hong Kong and mainland China and worked our ‘international black book’ to ensure this year’s Week was more international than ever. As a demonstration of this, the China – UK Services Exchange event had over 120 Chinese delegates in attendance with senior executives from COSCO, CMG, ICBC Leasing and Petroineos present.
It was also great to partner with Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers, and its endlessly energetic Director Julie Lithgow on the inaugural Maritime Leadership Conference, bringing leaders from industry and academia together to discuss the future of the industry and the impact on maritime education. This event we will be running again in October 2020.
The annual dinner, which Maritime London gratefully inherited when we took over the IMIF was once again sold out, and the new location of the RAC Club was met with universal approval. Furthermore, the pre-dinner seminar on the far-reaching effects of sanctions compliance found its way to the front page of Lloyd’s List. My thanks go to the great panel we had and also Paddy Rodgers, now the director at Royal Museums Greenwich, who gave the after-dinner speech and seamlessly weaved together the challenges facing the industry today and how the industry of yesteryear successfully overcame similar-sized obstacles.
Internationally, we have been in Greece, China and Hong Kong, running a series of meetings and events with owners and operators – flying the flag on behalf of our members. You will also be pleased to hear that we are actively engaging with a number of Owners and service providers regarding the advantages of having a presence in the UK.
Off the back of the Government’s Maritime 2050 strategy, we continue to build our cooperation with HMG across departments. As previously referred to, in partnership with the DfT and City of London we launched the ‘Catching the Wave Report’, produced by PwC. The report provides an objective overview of our competitiveness compared with other leading MPBS (Maritime Professional Business Services) jurisdictions and importantly 36 recommendations that if implemented, will ensure we can compete on a level playing field, and maintain our market share, in one of the few sectors where we can truly say that the UK is a world leader.
It has been – I think I can say – a bone of contention with Maritime London that historically DIT has not promoted the MPBS market as proactively as they have our marine manufacturing friends. Well, we now have two new roles within the DIT designed to coordinate and promote our sector overseas. We have also provided training and market insights to the global DIT team and contributed to the DIT 5-year promotion plan, which provides a commitment to the sector regarding promotion up to 2024. Furthermore, on the subject of promotion may I also take this opportunity to commend two Maritime London directors – Ian Gaunt, President of the LMAA and Mark Lloyd Chair of the ASG for their significant efforts in promoting the advantages of UK law and jurisdiction, increasingly in partnership with the MoJ.
We have also made significant strides in our engagement with UK Export Finance, where through consultation, UKEF have now broadened their definitions of what constitutes an exporter to include a UK-based shipowner. This change has opened the door potentially to a number of guarantee products that could support the UK ship owning, ship finance and marine manufacturing markets.
In conjunction with the Green Finance Institute, which is funded by HMT, BEIS and The City of London, we are exploring a partnership to develop definitions and one hopes products, to facilitate the growth of sustainable finance in shipping.
Further evidence of the fact that Maritime London has become central to the shipping zeitgeist within the corridors of power is the fact that we are now represented on both the DIT’s Expert Trade Advisory Group for Services – ensuring the interests of our sector are considered in post-Brexit trade deals – and the DfT’s Clean Maritime Council – the central forum for the development of green policies as they pertain to UK maritime.
Maritime London director Britt Pickering has also taken on the Chair of the Tech and innovation working group, set up to provide thought leadership and guidance to the MPBS sector on the increasing role of innovation and technology.
As highlighted ‘Catching the Wave’ report, the OECD’s BEPS reforms and the shift in tax liabilities from where the vessel is owned to where the key functions of the owning entity take place will have a significant impact on our sector. The UK has to be alive to this opportunity and ensure we make ourselves as attractive as possible, and promote ourselves proactively so that the UK can capture owners who are reassessing their company structures. This will be a key strand of work in 2020, starting with a seminar on the subject in Athens in March.
Maritime UK represents a significant time and monetary investment for an organisation the size of Maritime London. The Chairman and I sit on a number of working groups and on the National Council and we would only be members if we felt it delivered a decent ROI. Well, on this, I believe that Maritime UK has evolved into a valuable resource and is allowing the wider sector, where appropriate, to present a united front to government and promote the strength of our holistic maritime offer internationally. Under the leadership of Maritime London’s vice chairman Harry Theochari, with fellow Maritime London Director Sarah Kenny as deputy chair, the organisation has gone from strength to strength. Maritime UK has been actively involved in the establishment of Maritime Research and Innovation UK (MaRI UK). Based in Glasgow’s Strathclyde University, MaRI-UK’s first initiative is the launching of a £1m prize for UK companies developing innovative solutions to reduce emissions on behalf of the DfT. Maritime UK is also coordinating pioneering work on the skills and diversity agendas, which will make a genuine difference to the future prosperity of the sector. With the establishment of the Women in Maritime Charter and a number of skills-based initiatives, we are well placed to ensure the maritime sector from ports to leisure marine has access to the widest possible talent pool.
In the past 12 months, the team has taken a far more hands-on role with our charity the Maritime London Officer Cadetship Scholarship programme and under the new Chairmanship of Tony Vlasto, the charity has renewed vigour. MLOCS, is a deeply relevant cause, raising funds to support young people who want to become merchant navy officers, thus enhancing the merchant navy and sea safety and also providing a valuable source of future seafaring experience for the potential benefit of the UK maritime services industry. I would like to thank all of the Trustees, and all the sponsors who make this important scheme possible.
This 2019, Maritime London members Gard, Wallem, Campbell Johnston Clark and the International Underwriters Association have agreed to sponsor cadets. If you would like further information on how your firm could support the scheme, do not hesitate to get in touch.
Now for a quick housekeeping notice, we have made a significant investment in the website, which is currently being updated. We will be contacting each member shortly asking for various updates to enable us to bring the website’s content and our mailing list up-to-date. We thank you in advance for cooperation on this particular issue.
As for next year, we have a growing list of events throughout 2020. Starting with the AGM on the 24 January. We will be in Greece in March exploring the implications of the changing BEPS regime on owners and then, of course, we will have a significant presence at Posidonia. We will be heading state-side to explore the potential partnership with our friends at NYMAR and we will continue to proactively fly the flag for the UK’s professional services in the Far East. In conjunction with the Department for Transport, we will be running a conference on sustainable finance, and there will be a number of events and thought leadership pieces focused on the work of the Tech and Innovation Working Group. The Global Maritime Forum is coming to Town in October and it is vital that we make the most of this opportunity, engage proactively with attendees, ensure we are well placed to sell the strengths of our services community and the advantages of operating from the UK. Then, of course, our dinner will return in November. Further to this, there is a number of exciting projects I hope to be able to announce early in the new year. Importantly, we will also continue to enact the recommendations set out in the ‘Catching the Wave’ report.
As mentioned, Maritime London is completely reliant on its membership, therefore if you feel we there’s something we should be doing or can be improved on, have an idea you would like to discuss, please do get in touch.
For now, however, all there is left to do is wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!