Merseyside hosts top-level maritime summit on Friday

Government ministers and leading figures from the £46bn UK maritime sector will meet in Birkenhead on Friday for the third annual Maritime Exchange summit. Tony McDonough reports

The Port of Liverpool
Port of Liverpool and the Liverpool2 terminal


High-profile figures from the UK’s maritime sector will come together with Government ministers in Liverpool city region on Friday in a top-level summit to discuss the future of the sector.

Maritime is worth £46bn a year to the UK, £4bn in Merseyside alone where it employs tens of thousands of people in more the 30 sub-sectors. The third annual Maritime Exchange event will take place both online and in the magnificent surroundings of a Grade-II-listed former Victorian hydraulic tower in Wirral’s docklands.

Maritime 2050: Where are we now? is being organised by Mersey Maritime in partnership with the Department for Transport and Maritime UK. It will discuss the progress of the UK’s Government’s Maritime 2050 report which set out the future of the sector over the next three decades.

The conference is being sponsored by Brabners, Nautilus International, OPS Wind, and Peel Ports Group.

Maritime Minister Robert Courts will open this year’s conference, being joined by Innovation Minister Amanda Solloway and Minister for International Trade, Graham Stuart. Former Maritime Minister, Nusrat Ghani, one of the authors of Maritime 2050, will also speak at the conference.

Port of Liverpool owner Peel Ports will talk in detail about its plans to continue the expansion of the Port which has already seen investment over the past few years of more than £750m. That investment centres around the Liverpool2 deep water container terminal, equipped to handle 95% of the world’s biggest container vessels.

Stephen Carr, commercial director at Peel Ports, has been invited to join a discussion panel on the day. He will partake in a conversation centred on the positive, sustainable impact ports offer to the local economy and the wider region.

Mark Whitworth, chief executive at Peel Ports, said: “Maritime 2050 is a vitally important framework and its key themes capture the very essence of the maritime sector.

“As the maritime industry continues to thrive, our aim with major investment into infrastructure projects across the Port of Liverpool is to create long-term, sustainable and greener opportunities to help shape the future of the regions we operate in.

“This will help ensure that as many people as possible have the chance to share in the continued prosperity of the Port of Liverpool. We’re confident our presence in the region will grow even further as a result of these investment plans, and as a long-term partner of Mersey Maritime, we look forward to sharing our vision at the conference.”

Ministers are expected to offer the latest updates on new post-Brexit trade deals and on the recovery from the pandemic. New announcements on major investment into the maritime sector are also anticipated.

Chris Shirling-Rooke, Chief Executive of Mersey Maritime, said: “This is a huge event for the Liverpool city region and the UK as a whole. The fact that Birkenhead has been chosen as the location is an indication of the growing importance of Merseyside in the global maritime industry.

“Liverpool city region is now recognised as one of Europe’s leading maritime clusters. Other port locations across the UK are copying our successful model. This event is of vital importance, not just for the maritime sector, but for the entire UK economy.”

Graham Stuart
UK Department for International Trade’s Minister for Exports, Graham Stuart


The Grade II-listed 19th century hydraulic tower building is a copy of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence and is close to the Birkenhead waterfront. The building is set to be the centrepiece of the proposed £23m Maritime Knowledge Hub in Wirral Waters.

The conference will feature a range of key-note speeches and panel discussions, focused around the themes of people; innovation; environment; competitiveness; and regional growth. Other speakers on the day, include:

  • Sarah Kenny, Chief Executive of BMT and Chair of Maritime UK.
  • Tom Chant, Chief Executive of the Society of Maritime Industries.
  • Richard Ballantyne, Chief Executive of the British Ports Association.
  • Mark Dickinson, General Secretary of Nautilus International (the conference coincides with the Day of the Seafarer 2021).
  • Stephen Carr, Group Commercial Director of Peel Ports Group.
  • Roy Barry, Partner, Head of the Manufacturing and Supply Chain Sector at Brabners.
  • Clive Hickman, CEO of MTC.
  • Jonathan Taylor, Vice President: Marine of Expleo.
  • Kevin Smith, Founder of Maritime Digital Hub.

In addition to the Mersey Maritime Exchange conference, the Maritime Knowledge Hub site will also host a number of other activities across the day including a VVIP visit to launch the pre-development phase of the project with key partners Wirral Waters, Peel L&P, Wirral Council and Liverpool Combined Authority.

For more details on the Mersey Maritime Exchange – Maritime 2050: The journey so far click here

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