London: The chief executive of Maritime London is making a big push to show the UK’s coalition government the importance of shipping to the national economy. Doug Barrow, chief executive of the not for profit shipping promotional body, talks to Maritime CEO on why he feels London is still top of the pile in terms of global shipping hubs.
From ports to shipbrokers, luxury yacht makers to insurers, the UK maritime sector collectively generates £19bn and employs over 367,000 people, according to statistics from Maritime London.
“These are the sorts of numbers which make government ministers sit up and take notice of this all too often forgotten sector,” Barrow says.
This January the UK government launched a marine export strategy, which will target a range of areas including offshore oil and gas, offshore renewable energy, naval defence and leisure boats and equipment.
“The news that the government is developing an industry strategy, which has prioritised professional and business services, is most welcome,” Barrow says, adding that his organisation is already consulting closely with the government to ensure that the strategy will help open up opportunities for maritime business services.
“The government says that its objective is to identify high value opportunities right across the global market where the UK has demonstrable business capability and strengths – the maritime sector is clearly one of these areas,” he stresses.
Barrow’s focus is to maintain London’s leading position as a place to do business, but also to learn from other leading centres including Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai.
Nowhere else, Barrow claims, has the breadth of shipping services that the British capital can boast.
“London’s unique selling point,” Barrow says, “is the fact that it is a one-stop shop for the maritime industry.
“Shipowners can handle every aspect of their business through UK based firms and have an abundance of choice.”
To this end London International Shipping Week has been launched this year. Scheduled for 9-13 September this large initiative is something Barrow admits is “long overdue”.
A number of leading UK-based organisations including the Baltic Exchange, Maritime UK, UK Chamber of Shipping, International Chamber of Shipping, Intermanger and Intertanko are supporting the shipping summit and will be hosting events and meetings throughout the week.
“The week will bring both our international business partners into London, but will also draw government and public attention to this important sector,” Barrow reckons.
Looking overseas Maritime London has recently appointed regional representatives in Shanghai and Dubai who are, in Barrow’s words, “our eyes and ears on the ground, identifying business opportunities for our members, opening doors and providing local insight”. On top of this Maritime London has a series of roadshows taking place throughout the year, accompanied by the Lord Mayor of London. The largest of these is the International Shipping Strategic Development Forum, which takes place in Shanghai in September.
While other cities have hogged the limelight for shipping hub credentials in the past decade, venerable London would appear to be making its name known across the shipping world once again. [25/02/13]