The UK’s £2bn maritime services sector cemented its ties with China’s shipping industry at the 3rd International Shipping Strategic Development Forum in Shanghai organised by the trade promotional body Maritime London (21 Sept). With high profile support from the Lord Mayor of London David Wooton who opened the forum, the event was attended by 450 and brought together some of the UK’s leading maritime professionals and China’s shipowners and charterers.
Lord Mayor David Wooton said: “The City of London remains the world’s pre-eminent financial centre – and a central part of its competitive offer is the comprehensive range of maritime services we offer – services which make us the natural partner of choice for China, in all sectors and for all maritime business in particular.” He added: “Ours are great trading nations and great trading cities. The UK itself is the leading global centre for maritime services, and we are keen to co-operate with other important centres, such as Shanghai – not least because the focus of ship owning and operating has moved increasingly eastwards in recent years, not least due to China’s economic growth- and the UK possesses the business services that help facilitate that.”
Maritime London Chief Executive Doug Barrow said: “We saw many of China’s leading shipowners come to the Forum to hear from some of the best brains in the maritime business. The UK has a world beating array of professional maritime service providers and it is crucial that the sector collectively presents a show of strength to key growth markets such as China. Maritime London enjoys a strong working relationship with both businesses and the Chinese authorities and we will continue to build on these relationships to ensure that the rapidly growing Chinese shipping sector continues to partner with the UK’s maritime lawyers, shipbrokers, financiers, insurers, designers, surveyors, ship managers and educators.”
The UK’s maritime services sector, centred on London, provides a direct contribution to the UK GDP of £1.5bn, tax revenue of £644m, overseas earnings of £2.2bn and employment of 12,000.
Key presentations from the forum included:
• Economic outlook. Standard Chartered China Chief Economist Shen Lan gave a modest assessment on global economic outlook. She predicts China’s economy will grow 7.7% in 2012 and slightly pick up to 7.8% in 2013, while US’ growth remains soft and European economy’s main risk is to the downside.
• Containerships. Sinotrans CSC’s Vice President Tao Suyun stated that the containership sector may recover earlier than bulk carrier and oil tanker sectors.
• Financial leasing. Raymond Yu, Vice President of China Merchant Group noted that financial leasing in China has grown 160 times in the last six years, and there is still great potential ahead as penetration rate is still 3.1%.
• Cruise industry. According to Chris Hayman, Chairman of Seatrade Communications, China’s outbound tourism market has more than doubled to 70m in just six years and is on track to become the world’s largest outbound market. Although Chinese passenger numbers are now only approaching 300,000, some 300m Chinese are identified as potential cruise passengers – the equivalent of the entire population of either North America or Western Europe.
• Ship technology. BMT Asia’s Mark Yong gave a comprehensive overview on 17 types of new technology and new designs for better fuel efficiency and performance, ranging from hull design, propeller optimizing, solar power to propulsion by wind, and provided solid data validation of their effectiveness on achieving energy saving.
• Ship finance. European banks are restrained due to Basel III requirements, as pointed out by Standard Chartered head of ship finance Nigel Anton, but Chinese financial institutes are determined to remain in the ship finance sector. They are still looking to maintain their shipping portfolio to continue the “love-hate” relationship between shipping and finance, as pointed out by China Construction Bank’s Zhang Xiangqun.