Striking a sector deal for maritime

Maritime industry leaders from across the UK are working to ensure that the sector is at the heart of the government’s industrial strategy.

In January this year, the Government published its green paper ‘Building our industrial strategy’. The paper challenges sectors to come forward with proposals that will help the UK build competitive advantage over its international rivals; enhance productivity, address shortfalls in skills and advance developments in technology.

The Government has said it will work with sectors that organise themselves behind “strong leadership” – including universities and regional leaders – to help deliver “transformational” change across the UK.

The UK’s maritime sector has rallied itself and work on its proposal is gathering pace. Industry promotional body Maritime UK is working with the University of Southampton to coordinate the sector bid as a whole.

Individual Maritime UK members, including the UK Chamber of Shipping, are developing proposals for different areas for inclusion within the overall bid.

Broadly, the maritime sector deal will aim to boost productivity, competitiveness, growth, jobs and exports. These will likely be driven by four ‘pillars’ comprising innovation and technology; the national shipbuilding strategy, regional growth and skills.

Much of this work will require focused research and development (R&D), which would be provided via the proposed Maritime Research & Innovation UK, an organisation that has been recommended as part of the sector bid. The organisation would coordinate the sector’s R&D and innovation, encouraging different parts of the sector to collaborate in order to boost growth.

Increasing exports will also be part of the plan, and the maritime sector will look at how the UK can use trade and investment deals to its benefit.

“Developing our sector deal is a natural evolution of Maritime UK’s role – bringing our diverse industries together, to collaborate and deliver growth,” says Ben Murray, manager of the organisation.

“There are a number of really exciting proposals being developed from across the entire maritime sector and the deal will integrate these into a coherent plan – matching industry offers with government support to boost UK maritime productivity, competitiveness and exports,” he continues.

The sector deal process is iterative and proposals will be brought forward in phases, but all being well the foundation sector deal will be developed by Easter 2018.

Discussions are underway with the Department for Transport (DfT) and Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), including government office for science. The next meeting of the ministerial working group on maritime growth will brief ministers on the sector deal’s progress.

Source: UK Chamber of Shipping

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