Speech: Harry Theochari at Maritime 2050 launch

Remarks by Maritime UK Chair Harry Theochari at the launch of Maritime 2050

Check against delivery

It is a huge pleasure to be here at the launch of Maritime 2050, in this centre of global maritime life, the IMO.

Several of us have just finished a cruise aboard the Millennium Diamond – City Cruises’ terrific flagship vessel – on the Thames, a river that reminds us every day that the UK’s fortunes are intertwined with those of its maritime sector.

That our prosperity and way of life relies on those working on, under, and with, the water.

On the river, the Secretary of State met with companies, academics, apprentices and others from across the shipping, ports, services, engineering and leisure marine industries from the length of our maritime nation, to discuss how we can turn this ambitious vision into a reality.

I’ll return to that later.

But first, let me, on behalf of Maritime UK, enthusiastically welcome Maritime 2050.

For the first time, the maritime sector has a truly long-term strategy. One that will guide our collaborative work for years to come – peppered with major projects to transform the sector.

It will deliver direction and vision for government and industry to work together to ensure the UK is ready to compete in this most global of sectors for decades to come.

And it is rooted in the fundamentally important themes for the UK maritime sector: UK competitive advantage; Technology – my Maritime UK colleague, Sarah Kenny, will talk more about this later; People; Environment; Trade; Infrastructure and Security and resilience.

The UK is the world’s leading centre for maritime services - maritime law, finance, insurance, management and brokering. 2050 will maximise our strength in maritime professional services, retaining and enhancing our competitive advantage and developing new areas to compliment the offer, like green finance. We must maintain the most competitive business environment to attract maritime business to the country.

Maritime 2050 will strengthen our reputation for maritime innovation with an initial focus on autonomy and low-carbon technologies. There is a time-limited golden opportunity to be an early adopter, particularly on low-carbon, and the UK can simply not afford to miss it.

Our sector invests heavily in infrastructure. Ports alone have over £1.6bn of investments in the pipeline. Government creating the right conditions for further investment by ports and the wider maritime sector will transform our coastal communities into the coastal powerhouse we know they can be. 

We have an opportunity to grow our maritime workforce and transform our diversity. I’m delighted that industry and government are working closely through our Women in Maritime Taskforce, but Maritime 2050 rightly challenges us to broaden that work, and we will. Maritime 2050 will also deliver a skills commission to clinically audit skills needs and direct training as necessary.

The UK is recognised as the gold standard for safety, education and training standards. This is a real area of strength, and one that can be strengthened further. Maritime 2050 will do just that.

Our strength as a maritime nation is in our collective value. London is complimented by hubs in Merseyside, the Solent, Scotland and the Humber amongst others. Industry is determined to create powerful and effective regional hubs to drive maritime growth. We look forward to working with government to roll out the model developed by Mersey Maritime to our maritime regions through Maritime UK.

This report rightly recognises the UK as the champion of free trade that we are. That 95% of trade is facilitated by this sector means we have a huge and real stake in the debate about protectionism vs free trade. We know the value of trade, and the unique responsibility we have to ensure our island nation has the food and energy it needs. We also know the power of trade to lift people out of poverty, and we will champion that power through Maritime 2050.

The report highlights the UK’s strength, recognises frankly where we’re weaker, and creates a strengthening plan for moving forward, together.

This is a timely strategy – the UK is under increasing pressure from our global competitors. That’s why delivery; turning the strategy into action, is critical.

And that’s why the success of Maritime 2050 will depend upon the strength of partnership between government and industry.

The roadmaps that follow will be vital; and industry is committed to working collaboratively to drive those with government. And it also means using existing initiatives and vehicles to realise shared ambitions.

Allow me to pay tribute to those behind Maritime 2050, but more broadly those behind the growing relationship between government and industry.

Thank you to the Secretary of State for your vision in initiating this work.

Thanks to the Maritime Minister for being our champion and partner.

And thanks to those who have been working on this strategy for months. In particular to Roger, Petra, Rod and their respective teams. It is my true hope that in 2050 we can look back at 24 January 2019 and recognise it as the day that the UK embarked upon a voyage to global recognition as the world’s leading maritime nation.

So, let’s get to work!