Happy New Year on behalf of the Mersey Maritime team! What might 2024 hold for us as an industry nearly a quarter of the way into the century? Predicting the exact future is best left to others most likely and it is never easy but there are some big events on the horizon this year which will undoubtedly have an impact one way or another. Whilst our focus as an organisation is resolutely on continuing our support for the maritime sector here in the Liverpool City Region and wider North West, we aren’t immune from the changes and challenges that events within the national and even international arena can have.
Turmoil and instability in the Middle East in recent weeks, are being directly felt by the maritime industry. It goes without saying that as an island nation we rely heavily on global shipping and attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea, for example, are already being felt, not least by some of our own members who are impacted by these serious events. This region is one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, so long diversions to avoid it naturally impacts the flow of trade and have led to increased costs for service users. There’s no immediate end in sight for the conflict here and in recent days the UK Government has also indicated that it would consider airstrikes on Yemeni based Houthi rebels who have been targeting container ships in the Red Sea.
Closer to home we will most likely face a UK parliamentary general election during the course of 2024 (although technically the Prime Minister has until the end of January 2025 to see the process take place). The strategic document, Maritime 2050, has done much to build a consensus around the direction of the industry in recent years with its focus on the big overarching themes of UK competitive advantage, technology, people, environment, trade, infrastructure and security/resilience. The general emphasis within each of these themes may not change substantially – the need to prioritise skills within the industry, tackle the existential challenge of decarbonisation, focus on the UK’s place in the world as a globally competitive nation as examples – any new government will want to craft its own narrative and prioritise its own policy agenda. That’s why later this month we’ll be engaging with our colleagues at Maritime UK around their work to develop a ‘General Election Manifesto’. Members are encouraged to be part of this conversation and can register their interest in attending the event here: insert link to event
And even closer to home, what is in store for maritime in the Liverpool City Region and Mersey Maritime in particular? There are no shortage of projects and opportunities on our doorstep which will develop further in 2024 and continue to drive forward the industry here which makes such a massive contribution to the regional economy. We should all keep that reality at the forefront of our minds when we ‘talk up’ how this is a fantastic place to do business – over £5.6 billion in business turnover and supporting over 48,000 jobs makes maritime a serious player in economic terms in this region. So, we look forward to seeing – and supporting – such things as the ongoing development of the LCR Freeport, how the Liverpool Cruise Terminal continues to progress following news of how the city council intend to change their relationship with it and how we can play our part in furthering the work of key regional groups such as the LCR Combined Authority’s Business and Enterprise Board. which we’ll be able to do that directly through our CEO, Ruth Wood, being a member of the Board and therefore able to influence its work in a positive way. There’s no shortage of work to be done!
Mersey Maritime’s regular drumbeat of activity around our networking opportunities such as Face-to-Face and our thought leadership work through other major events in our calendar will be maintained throughout the year. Find out more about what our current schedule looks like here: insert events link Not forgetting a very special anniversary year for the Mersey Maritime Industry Awards which will see the tenth iteration of them take place. A collaborative approach sits at the heart of all that we do and 2024 will be no exception. We are fully committed to maintaining this way of working as we engage with industry stakeholders, policymakers and innovators alike. We’ll be announcing very soon some really interesting work, with an emphasis on ‘green maritime’, with a range of partners which will help put both Mersey Maritime, and crucially our members, at the forefront of work in this area. Watch this space!
2024 is definitely set to be an interesting year for the industry. We haven’t even mentioned here the ongoing impact of digitalisation and automation which will continue to disrupt and shape how maritime changes in the years ahead, often at an exceptional pace. What enhancements for efficiency and safety might developments through these areas be brought about? How will an ongoing emphasis on sustainability and the need for a cleaner, greener sector continue to drive innovation amidst a global focus on reducing carbon footprints? We may well see some answers to these questions in the months ahead or at least answers to what some of the questions on these subjects might be. As ever, Mersey Maritime looks forward to supporting our members and stakeholders as we navigate the challenges and opportunities that 2024 presents. Do make sure you are fully engaged with us and join us on this exciting and dynamic journey ahead!
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