At the first annual meet of the Gujarat Maritime Cluster (GMC) on Friday, experts and the policy makers discussed issues faced by the industry in venturing out and tapping the global markets.

The reasons, according to the leaders from the sector, include greater focus on the domestic market, and a lack of a dedicated platform to act as a spring board for maritime ventures offering services globally.

At the first annual meet of the GMC held at GIFT-IFSC, Avantika Singh, CEO and Vice Chairperson, Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) stated that, going forward, the GMC will act as a platform to share ideas on maritime space and logistics. She also stated that, for the first time in GMB's history, the regulator has set up a company called Gujarat Ports and Logistics Company with GMB as its majority shareholder. "This is a special purpose vehicle set up solely to look after the logistics space and to improve the logistics infrastructure to support our maritime sector," she said.

The GMC, set up under GMB, has over 50 members from the maritime trade sector. The GMC looks to promote its members and services in global maritime arena.

Last year, the GMC was set up as India's first international maritime cluster at GIFT-IFSC to enhance competitiveness and self-sufficiency and provide one-stop solution for the entire maritime fraternity.

Manoj Kumar Das, Additional Chief Secretary (Ports and transport), Government of Gujarat, stated that India's focus is on ports and logistics. "In order to evolve as a maritime nation, it is time that we focus on the parameters such as finance and law, shipping, maritime technology and competitiveness."

In his address, Tapan Ray, MD and Group CEO, Gift City, informed that maritime cluster is an area, where large consumption takes place by Indian players. "That can be brought back to Indian shores. The regulations can be made to achieve onshoring of these services which are currently done offshore. Gujarat being a maritime state, the positioning of maritime cluster makes eminent sense," he said.

According to experts, GMC can leverage strategic initiatives of GMB such as Gujarat Maritime University, Gujarat International Maritime Arbitration Centre and Gujarat Ports and Logistics Company Ltd (GPLCL) and further leverage the facilities and infrastructure at GIFT CIty, including the IFSC to churn out desirable results in the long run for the cluster.

"The GMU and GIMAC shall act as the nodal and fulcrum point for GMC, as it shall serve as the knowledge hub and cost effective and speedy dispute resolution mechanism, respectively. GPLCL shall aid in ease of doing business and help enhance the State's performance in the logistics sector," said Das.