A Maritime Cluster can be broadly defined as a group or agglomeration of firms, institutions, business and other industry players in the maritime sector that are geographically located close to each other and thereby enjoy positive synergy between their activities.
The cluster approach pertains to “interconnected companies, specialized suppliers, service providers, and firms in related industries”. Maritime clusters have evolved organically in the industrial countries of Europe in the early 19th century (viz. The Baltic Exchange of London). Over a period, other clusters grew semi-organically, the best examples being Singapore and Switzerland. Centres like Dubai have built and nurtured Dubai Multi Commodity Exchange (DMCC) within the Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT), which is a cluster inorganically created.
Maritime Clusters are the driving forces of some of the most competitive ports of world like Rotterdam, Singapore, Hong Kong, Oslo, Shanghai, London etc. Besides being highly productive, maritime clusters have evolved as a cradle of innovation in these economies. Moreover, the concept of maritime cluster is seaport-agnostic, as proven by thriving maritime clusters in land locked countries like Switzerland, Luxembourg and some European countries.
The total economic impact of maritime activities in a cluster in terms of direct economic activity and jobs created and indirect effects on the induced job and demand creation across the value chain have profound impact on the regional economy. This has led to the realization that the full economic significance of maritime activities are not the jobs at sea, but rather the derived employment and economic activities on shore.
India has slowly evolved into a major player in international trade and is the sixteenth largest maritime country in the world. As per the Ministry of Shipping, around 95% of India’s trading by volume and 70% by value is moved through maritime transport. With the “centre of gravity” of world trade slowly shifting to Asia, India’s maritime trade is expected to witness exponential growth in decades to come.
Government of India (GoI) has been taking several initiatives to harness its natural advantages and to tap the vast potential for growth in the maritime sector.
The ambitious USD 120 Billion Sagarmala program, by Ministry of Shipping, is a principal initiative aimed towards boosting the domestic maritime industry with emphasis on the development of ports and associated maritime infrastructure.
GoI announced that maritime clusters would be the next focal points for the economic development of the country’s coastline. One such maritime cluster is proposed in Gujarat.
Gujarat Maritime Cluster is conceived as a dedicated ecosystem of Ports, Maritime / Shipping and Logistics services providers along with pertinent Government Regulators, in the same geographic ensemble (GIFT City), leveraging on their proximity and improved access, thus enhancing the competitiveness and growth of the maritime sector.