Trio of ministers to attend top-level maritime summit in Merseyside

Three Government ministers and leaders of the UK’s £46bn maritime sector will meet in Liverpool city region to discuss the future of the industry. Tony McDonough reports

Maritime Hub
The Grade II-listed Victorian hydraulic tower in Wirral Waters will be the venue for the event


Three Government ministers are to speak at a top-level summit in the Liverpool city region that will discuss and debate the future of the UK’s £46bn maritime sector.

Industry body Mersey Maritime’s third annual Maritime Exchange conference will be a hybrid event, taking place on Friday, June 25, 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 UKand 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 BrabnersNautilus InternationalOPS 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.

As Britain emerges from the pandemic, the maritime industry will play a critical role in the recovery. It already supports more than 1m jobs across the country, tens of thousands of which are in Liverpool City Region where the sector is worth more than £4bn.

Around 95% of goods coming into the UK arrive by sea and the sector kept this vital supply line of food, medicines and clothing moving during COVID-19. British maritime companies facilitate more than £500bn of global trade each year. With new trade deals being announced on a weekly basis, maritime’s importance cannot be underestimated.

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 will speak at the Exchange
Sarah Kenny
Sarah Kenny, chair of Maritime UK. Picture by Tony McDonough


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, chief executive of MTC.
  • Jonathan Taylor, vice-president of Marine of Expleo.
  • Kevin Smith, founder of Maritime Digital Hub.

Maritime UK chair, Sarah Kenny, added: “The UK is emerging from one of the greatest economic shocks in modern times, and as we look to rededicate ourselves to the long-term ambitions set out in the Maritime 2050 strategy, we have the opportunity to consider what the future of the maritime sector should look like.”

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 City Region Combined Authority.

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

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