Capitalism, globalisation and international collaboration spread prosperity and growth – and shipping has a vital role to play in this process, Guy Platten said in his address to the annual Scottish Shipping Benevolent Association (SSBA) dinner in Glasgow last night.
“Even though the world has never traded more, it seems like once again we have to defend trade, free markets and capitalism itself from those who would seek to tear them down,” the UK Chamber CEO said.
His address coincides with new research that says the world’s top 60 economies have adopted more than 7,000 protectionist trade measures since the financial crisis, according to data compiled from the World Bank, Heritage index and Global Trade Alert.
“Protectionism, whether in the UK, in the EU, the USA or anywhere else, will see trade fall and that extraordinary progress reversed. We must now allow it to,” Guy said.
“So when we are arguing for change from government, when we are recruiting young seafarers or taking care of old ones and their families, let us remember – the success or otherwise of the shipping industry is about more than our bottom line alone.
“When we say we are important to the economy, it cannot just be about patting ourselves on the back. It means we accept the responsibility that comes it. To connect people. To treat our seafarers well. To invest in our future. To argue for the things we need from government. And to take our place at the heart of the economic and political debate.
“The future of trade is too important to be left to others to decide.”
Guy noted that the UK’s shipping community no longer exists in a bubble, congratulating itself like “an industry whose best days lay behind it”. Instead, he noted, “the UK Government is listening to maritime voices like never before”.
Shipping, he argued, has opened up and is influencing policymakers through the work of bodies like the UK Chamber, Maritime UK and the Scottish Maritime Cluster.
“We are making progress. But we have so much more to do. And I am clear, I want us to become a bold, confident and ambitious industry,” Guy told the charity dinner.
“We are not a niche sector with a niche set of interests. We are fundamental to the British way of life and we are putting ourselves on a path to ensure we become every bit as influential and high-profile as car manufacturing or professional services,” Guy said.