With 64 days left until Britain is scheduled to leave the European Union and no clear plan yet finalised for the withdrawal, the UK Department of Transport has launched a 30-year strategy for the maritime economy that aims to ensure the UK does not lose ground in the sector following a potential Brexit.
Asked about the difficulties of creating a 30-year maritime strategy when a Brexit agreement had not yet been finalised, Hill Dickinson's global head of shipping Julian Clark (pictured right) said he felt positive in spite of the potential 'significant challenges'.
"While a no-deal Brexit would certainly result in significant challenges there was nothing that the industry was not prepared and able to deal with," he said, citing what he called the determination among maritime interests in the UK to take Brexit as an opportunity to develop the sector further.
"Even without Brexit, we stand on the cusp of one of the most challenging and innovative periods in maritime history," Mr Clark said, making particular mention of the 'revolutionary' power of blockchain technologies.
Ultimately, Mr Clark said, "The 2050 strategy demonstrates the significance of our involvement in the marine sector and the fact that this is now recognised by government as being central to the future of the UK as an international trading nation."
UK shipping industry lobby group Maritime UK called the Maritime 2050 strategy a recognition of how important the maritime industry is to the UK economy, citing a statistic that 95% of all UK trade is ‘enabled’ by the sector.
Noting that “the sector is determined to manage the UK’s departure from the EU as smoothly as possible.” a Maritime UK statement said “Maritime 2050 is published at a time when the UK faces intense competition from maritime nations in the Far East, northern Europe, Gulf and North America.”
However, the lobby group highlighted what it called ‘significant opportunities’ for growth after a potential Brexit including in the arenas of autonomous and low-carbon technologies.
“For many of these technologies there is a time-limited golden opportunity to be an early adopter, particularly on low-carbon,” Maritime UK said.
The Maritime 2050 strategy also seeks to augment maritime business services in the UK – law, finance, insurance, management and brokering – with a new focus on green finance.