Robert Hill, managing director of Pains Wessex’s parent company Chemring Marine, has had separate meetings with both the UK chancellor and the trade minister to discuss marine safety issues. Mr Hill attended the marine industry lunch and briefing with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, which was held as part of the cabinet’s visit to Southampton. He stressed the importance of the government supporting the marine industry’s export activities through more UK Trade and Industry (UKTI) initiatives and placing additional commercial officers in foreign embassies.

Mr Hill said, “How can the government help our industry in the current financial crisis? The answer is simple – support our export activities. UKTI is universally regarded by industry as one of the most business-savvy departments of government. When times are tough, the UK needs to increase marketing and sales activity across all sectors. The majority of marine exporting companies are SMEs and the loss of free services, free market advice and the use of embassies is driving companies and trade bodies away from this historically valuable resource.”

“I was also able to get across that the European Marine Safety Agency required support to help them get legislation passed to tighten marine equipment directive policing and prevent sub-standard and counterfeit products entering the market,” he added.

The 90-minute meeting is believed to be the first time that the marine sector has had such a briefing with the chancellor. Mr Hill attended in his capacity as Chemring Marine MD and chairman of the Marine Sector Advisory Group (MSAG). At a separate meeting a few days later, Mr Hill discussed similar issues with Trade Minister Lord Mervyn Davies, the head of UKTI. To hear more about the sector’s concerns, Lord Davies has accepted an invitation to address the next meeting of the MSAG.

Mr Hill said, “It was a very positive meeting. Lord Davies was made aware of the issues in the marine safety industry and gave us a good hearing. The commercial sector is currently fairly resilient because a great deal of the UK industry is equipment and accessory-based, so although new ship build is being cut worldwide, essential equipment supply to existing fleets is still strong.”

Regarding the global economic challenges, Lord Davies said the next meeting of the G20, the world’s 20 strongest economies, would be critical in getting across positive messages.

Chemring Marine, based in Fareham, UK, is part of the Chemring Group. The company is the world’s leading supplier of SOLAS, MED and USCG-approved marine distress signals to the commercial and leisure marine markets. Available through over 200 distributors in more than 80 countries, Pains Wessex’s comprehensive range of products have been helping to save lives for more than 100 years and are specified by the world’s navies, merchant fleets, fishing vessels, rescue services, airlines and leisure craft.

Chemring Marine has been at the forefront of campaigning for improved global marine safety regulations, including introducing standardised rules on replacing dated safety products. In some countries, including America, signals in annually serviced liferafts can legitimately be up to 17 months out of date before being replaced.