The Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) report, ‘The economic contribution of the UK Maritime sector’, says 957,300 jobs are supported by the UK maritime sector, including shipping, ports and marine services.
The sector generates GBP37.5bn ($50.2bn) gross value added and GBP4.7bn of tax revenue, says the report. For every GBP1 generated by the maritime sector, the wider economy benefits by GBP2.59.
“This new and illuminating report shows that we are in good health and we are ready to increase our level of fitness by taking advantage of our opportunities,” said Maritime UK chairman David Dingle.
He added: “Half a trillion pounds worth of goods pass through our ports every year. But an efficient trade network requires a highly developed web of roads and railways that connect these ports to each other and to the rest of the country. Many of the existing connections to the ports are in some cases long overdue for improvement – and they should be considered on a par with other infrastructure projects such as HS2, Crossrail and the expansion of London’s airports.”
Maritime UK is also championing the establishment of a national maritime research centre to enable the UK to build on its strengths in R&D and innovation. “With support from the government, business will invest more in R&D – but that requires clear guidance on what grants are available, and they need a simple and fast process to access funding.”
The Cebr report also discusses the uncertainty faced by the maritime sector over the next few years. “Much of this comes down to the Brexit process itself and the uncertainty that poses for the UK economy and associated maritime sector,” it says. “We therefore expect the sector to experience sluggish growth over the next five years. Industry GVA and turnover will essentially remain flat until 2019, followed by a slow recovery up to 2022. By 2022, GVA and turnover are forecasted to be around 15% and 13% higher than they were in 2015.”
UK business still has relatively little clarity on what Britain’s post-Brexit relationship with the EU might look like after March 2019, says the report. Being outside the EU and the Customs Union, the UK will be in charge of its own trade policy, ‘which presents both risks and opportunities for trade’.
The key Brexit risk factors for the UK maritime sector are free movement of goods, people and services, it concludes.