The UK maritime sector—how does it compare internationally? The UK ports sector is one of the largest in Europe, handling 500m tonnes of freight per year and 28m passenger movements. There is potential scope for competition between ports in Northern Europe for the transhipment of containerised cargos serving hinterland markets. The presence of ports more generally may indirectly contribute to other parts of the maritime industry, such as maritime education, since maritime colleges are often located near ports.
In our report, we set out a framework to describe the nature of competition in the maritime sector based on key market characteristics, and assess the main drivers of the UK’s performance and competitiveness, compared with its main competitors.
We propose five key recommendations to improve competitiveness:
1. considering responding to aggressive use of taxation by competitor countries through targeted fiscal measures for the shipping sector;
2. ensuring that the compliance costs of taxation and regulation affecting the sector are minimised in new and existing legislation, to retain and attract mobile activity such as ship ownership and business services;
3. considering whether immigration laws for skilled seafarers could be relaxed to facilitate maritime activity;
4. promoting the maritime sector to the UK public to improve its appeal as a career option;
5. ensuring that the planning system and wider regulatory environment for port services support ports in adapting for the future.