State of the maritime nation report 2019


A new report published today highlights the vital role of the UK Maritime Sector to the British economy. Commissioned by Maritime UK in partnership with the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), the report shines a light onto the colossal economic contribution the UK Maritime Sector makes to the UK economy, and the growth outlook for the sector in years to come.

The UK Maritime Sector facilitates 95% of all UK trade and is larger than both the automotive and aerospace transport industries. The sector not only boasts high productivity and economic impact but is also a huge contributor to the UK Exchequer. As an island nation with a rich maritime heritage, the report underpins the key role the sector plays in facilitating trade and facilitating prosperity in the UK. It also highlights the huge opportunity facing the UK Maritime Sector abroad as global containerised trade has tripled in the past 10 years.

National Impact

The report found that the Maritime Sector supported a total of £46.1 billion to the UK’s GVA in 2017 £46.1 billion, an £8.3 billion increase since 2010. To put this in context, the Maritime Sector is larger than other comparable transport industries in the UK, including, Rail and Aerospace and is only marginally smaller than the road transport industry (see figure 15). The sector is relied upon to connect British business with the rest of the world. Never has this been more important than now.

The sector’s direct GVA contribution was £17 billion in 2017, a 25% increase compared to 2010 (£13.6 billion). This is larger than the entire Rail and Transport Sectors combined and is an important indicator that Maritime, which greases the cogs of global trade, is a fundamental sector for the continued growth and prosperity of the UK economy. This is evidenced by the far-reaching impact of maritime, as the report reveals that for every £1 in GVA directly contributed by Maritime, the sector supports another £2.71 in GVA across the UK economy.

The sector is also found to be a valuable contributor to the Exchequer, having directly generated an estimated £5.3 billion in tax revenues for the UK in 2017, 20% higher than the £4.4 billion in 2010.

Regional impact

Given the nature of the Maritime Sector, the opportunities it creates are geographically spread across the UK. Bringing economic opportunity, jobs and innovation across all regions of the UK. The report finds that the direct employment is concentrated in Scotland, London and South East England. London (42,000) and Scotland (41,000) both respectively make up 19% of the UK maritime workforce, while the South East (40,000) comes close behind with 18%. The South West (30,000) and North West (22,000) also contribute significantly, with 13% and 10%.

The highest concentrations of business turnover directly generated in 2017 were in London (£12.3 billion, 26%), the South East (£10.3 billion, 22%) and Scotland (£9.9 billion, 21%). An inspection of the regional breakdown of GVA yields similar results, with London, Scotland and the South East making the largest direct contributions to GVA in 2017. Combined, the three regions contribute 68% of total maritime economic impact to UK GVA.

The Maritime Sector is the beating heart of many of these coastal communities. It is not possible to be any further that 70 miles from the coast while standing on British soil and there has never been a more important time to unleash the sector and transform the fortunes of our coastal communities. Maritime has a unique capacity to kick-start this renaissance.


The report has found that maritime directly supports 220,100 jobs in the UK, an increase of 24,000 jobs from 2010. Further, for every job the Maritime Sector provided in 2017, a total of 4.85 jobs were supported in the UK economy. This means that the total employment impact of the Maritime Sector was 1.07 million jobs in 2017, an increase of 13% versus 2010.

As the Government grapples with solving the UK’s ‘productivity puzzle’, we provide a vital source of highly skilled, productive and well-paid employment in the UK. The report found that the UK maritime workforce is 42% more productive that the average UK worker.

Maintaining and improving this impressive productivity record is a focus moving forwards. Investment in autonomous vessels and freight, education and infrastructure will help maintain this outstanding level of productivity and is part of our Maritime 2050 strategy report. As we look to find and provide jobs and employment that are highly skilled and economically valuable, it has never been a better time to join the Maritime Sector.

The Future of Maritime

The future is bright for Maritime. The report highlights that importance of maritime as the primary mode of transport for international trade in the foreseeable future. Forecasted increases in global trade present us with a special opportunity to forge new trading relationships. The world’s economic centre is moving eastwards with Asia’s middle class forecast to grow by 153% by 2030 adding 2 billion additional consumers. This presents a golden opportunity for the UK as we prepare to leave the EU and as we host international trade delegations, heads of state, business leaders and diplomats this very week during London International Shipping Week.

The Maritime Sector is ready for these changes. We are home to some of the most forward thinking and advanced technology in the Maritime Sector. The report highlights the impressive productivity record maritime boasts, and the investment into technology such as autonomous vessels and autonomous freight movement to help maintain this productivity in the future.

The Sector is also aware of its responsibility to the environment. Having committed to net-zero emissions by 2050 and a 0.5% Sulphur limit by 2020, we are well on the way to becoming a world leader in the area of decarbonization. This explains why the Maritime Sector is predicted to grow by 15% between 2018 and 2023. We are prepared for the future.

Harry Theochari, Chair of Maritime UK, said: 

“This new report shows that the Maritime Sector is one of Britain’s biggest industries, and central to our national prosperity. 

 “As heads of government, global businesses leaders, politicians and diplomats descend on London this week, the report is a timely reminder of the special role maritime plays in the life of our island nation. We are widely viewed as the leading global centre for maritime professional business services, and hold the largest market share in insurance, law and ship broking. We have a deep and extensive talent pool alongside world class education system. We are in a strong position to take advantages of opportunities on the global stage. 

 “Indeed, despite ongoing political uncertainty, the Maritime Sector has proved to be steadfast and resilient. As a sector that facilitates 95% of all UK trade, it’s encouraging to see significant increases to employment, productivity and growth over the past 7 years.   

 “UK maritime should be a source of pride and encouragement to the UK economy. Not only do these figures paint a strong picture on the size of the sector, but they also show that its economic contribution is spread around the whole country; a truly national success story. And we should back our success stories.” 

Sarah Kenny, Vice Chair of Maritime UK, said: 

“As a sector that supports almost 1.1million jobs and over £46bn to the UK economy, it’s clear to see the size and importance of maritime to the United Kingdom. We are an island nation with a rich maritime heritage, and the report underpins the key role the sector plays in facilitating trade and fuelling prosperity.   

 “As the report illustrates, the Maritime Sector is a source of highly skilled and highly productive employment. UK maritime boasts a workforce that is 42% more productive than the average UK worker. We must continue to invest in world class technologies, education and training to ensure we maintain this world class advantage. 

 “The UK has the opportunity to lead the global conversation in all aspects of maritime technology and innovation. We are already leading the world in marine automation, and eager to lead across decarbonisation and digitisation too. The ‘blue economy’ is forecast to grow to over $3trillion by 2030. A huge opportunity awaits those countries whose Maritime Sectors can take a large piece of this pie, and we intend to be at the forefront.” 

Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, said:

“Our maritime industry is the lifeblood of UK economy, and these new figures are robust evidence that the sector is going from strength to strength.

“We are steadfast in our ambition to continue our global reputation as a great trading nation, capitalising on the huge post-Brexit opportunities for Britain.

“Working in partnership with our maritime industry colleagues, we will support this flourishing sector and continue to meet the maritime challenges of the 21st century.”

Download report