The UK is the world’s leading maritime business services hub as the country’s companies offering marine insurance, shipbroking, legal services and education contribute GBP 4.4 billion (USD 6.3 billion) to the economy and employ over 10,000 people, UK maritime trade promotion body Maritime London cited a research published by the City of London Corporation.
According to the research, an estimated 80-85 percent of its business comes from outside the UK.
The UK has a 35 percent share of global marine insurance premiums, 26 percent of global shipbroking revenue, while 25 percent of the world’s maritime legal partners are based in the UK, the UK’s Global Maritime Professional Services: Contribution and Trends report, produced by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), shows.
Furthermore, the UK is headquarters for many of the world’s leading maritime law and shipbroking firms, many of whom have expanded internationally by opening new offices across the globe. Also, the UK is the destination of choice for complex risk insurance, backed up by the expertise of Lloyd’s of London, the International Underwriting Association and the UK’s insurance broking community.
However, the sector faces a number of threats to its preeminent position. For many years, the UK has not been considered a major area of shipping activity due to its lack of an established major hub port, limited local ownership and shipping activity when compared to the likes of Rotterdam, Hamburg or Shanghai. This disadvantage is not new.
Corporation tax set at a higher rate in comparison to some other hubs, problems attaining visas and gold-plated regulation were all cited, as well as the relative cost of doing business in London.
The report also identified that the UK should grow its links with mainland China and attract maritime investment by highlighting its strengths as a services hub.
In addition, the report recommended that greater support from government is required to encourage young people to consider a career in this area, while companies should invest more in their people and training.
“We need the continued support of the government in backing this sector and serious commitment by the industry to play a leadership role. This includes investing in the skills of our workers and promoting the sector and wider maritime industry effectively. We must be bold if we are to maintain our number one status – now and in the future,” Lord Mayor of the City of London Jeffrey Mountevans, a shipbroker with Clarksons, said.
For the UK to stay ahead of the curve it would need to look at emerging industry issues such as cyber security, international piracy and new trade routes, the report shows.
Finally, according to the report, the UK must work to maintain and protect key pillars of the industry like the Baltic Exchange and the International Maritime Organisation, as well as ensuring London remains attractive for the Greek and other notable international shipping community.
“With the maritime industries facing the worst recessions in living memory, this is a pivotal time for everyone involved in the maritime industry and it is clear that the United Kingdom and the City of London…are exceptionally well placed to assist and serve the maritime industry,” Maritime London Vice-Chairman and Partner at Norton Rose Fulbright, Harry Theochari, said.