In the run up to the UK’s upcoming general election, the UK Chamber of Shipping has published its ‘Stand up for Shipping’ manifesto, calling for the future government to invest more in the maritime sector and make the UK “a world-leading shipping nation”.

Highlighting four main responsibilities in its election plan, the Chamber of Shipping also urged the new government to take active steps to “ensure the UK continues to be a world-leading place to do business”.

“The long-term Maritime 2050 strategy must be implemented, and the government must continue to work in partnership with the shipping industry,” the manifesto said.

With the industry contributing £19bn to the UK economy every year and supporting over 181,000 jobs, the Chamber said Britain “must have an attractive and competitive fiscal regime” to support it.

Announcing the manifesto, UK Chamber of Shipping chief executive Bob Sanguinetti said that all major political parties must “ensure the UK remains a great place to do business and increase support for green initiatives, training and apprentices”.

“Most importantly,” she added, “though we want to see greater investment across the UK in research and development so we can lead the world in developing the technologies of tomorrow, creating a cleaner, greener global shipping industry and ensuring the UK remains a world leading maritime nation.”

Shipping needs stronger financial policies

Emphasising on the importance of tax benefits, the manifesto said that “international competitiveness and attractiveness should be increased by improving the existing tax regime for shipping”.

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The document further added that introducing tax credits for companies in maritime research and development will encourage more innovation in the sector.

Insurance, legal and technical services currently offered to the international shipping industry “must continue to be championed and further developed,” it said.

In addition, “the UK Flag must improve its attractiveness and be an international flag of quality accessed through a one stop shop enabling UK registration and investment”.

Finally, the manifesto urged the future government to “support the development and diversification of the UK offshore fleet into renewables,” which would allow the industry to “export its expertise into the burgeoning global offshore renewables market”.

Government must support a more sustainable shipping sector

Sustainability was at the core of the Chamber’s second point, which included a call for the government to “support the decarbonisation of the shipping industry” and “commit to deliver the implementation of the Clean Maritime Plan”.

The Clean Maritime Plan was announced in July 2019 by Maritime Minister Nusrat Ghani and outlined an environmental roadmap to achieve the Maritime 2050 goal of having a zero-emission shipping sector.

According to the manifesto, in order for companies to achieve the zero-carbon regulation recently enforced by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the government must “continue to work in partnership with the industry” and support innovative technologies to decarbonise the industry.

“The next government must support the development of port infrastructure to help the supply of alternative low-carbon and zero-carbon fuels, whilst promoting shoreside power to enable ports to decarbonise,” it said.

In addition, the next government will have to “support access to green finance” in order to further strengthen its position in the sector.

Boosting future seafarers and maritime employees

The third point highlighted in the manifesto urged the government to make the industry more attractive to future generations by “helping companies provide training schemes” and “apprenticeships”.

Although the current premiership has already started implementing some initiatives to achieve this purpose, the Chamber of Shipping called for more “resources for campaigns to increase awareness of the career opportunities available within the Merchant Navy”.

In addition, the future Prime Minister “must commit to continuing SMarT and SMarT Plus funding to assist companies investing in training the ships’ officers of the future. They must also match the long-term commitments into which companies enter in order to turn recruits into senior officers,” the manifesto added.

“This funding must be sufficiently flexible to be used to overcome obstacles to training, including constraints on the provision of berths for trainees who require them in order to meet international requirements as to sea-going experience.”

Encouraging free and frictionless trade

In its final point, the association called for the next government to “work with global partners to ensure frictionless trade”.

“We call on the next government to prioritise and lead on developing and introducing a new ‘Maritime Chapter’ in bi-lateral and multilateral trade negotiations to maximise the opportunities for UK’s international shipping services.”

Highlighting the benefits of free trade and data sharing, the manifesto read: “The UK must collaborate and encourage the sharing and exchange of trade data to reduce barriers and expedite trade flows with our most important economic partners.

“The future UK-EU trade agreement must recognise the existing high degree of economic integration, safeguarding and promoting short sea shipping services on which this depends.”