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Port sector must remain strong, says UKMPG

New research presented today sets out the key characteristics of the "strong ports" that the UK needs to thrive post-Brexit

Global trade, and the maritime sector that enables so many of its flows, faces uncertain and challenging times. Nowhere more so than the UK, with Brexit - in whatever form it takes - dominating the agenda. But ports are long horizon businesses and must steer through the immediate storms.

What these trends mean and how strong ports can be delivered will be discussed at a breakfast roundtable being held today, Tuesday 10th September, during London International Shipping Week, by the UK Major Ports Group for port CEOs, the UK’s Maritime Minister (Nusrat Ghani, MP), Chinese Government representatives, major infrastructure investors, global traders and academics.

Research from maritime industry research experts Drewry being presented at the breakfast roundtable has identified a small number of key factors that will make a port resilient and robust through all weathers. In summary, these are:

Drewry Maritime Advisers' wheel of fortune
Drewry Maritime Advisers' wheel of fortune
  • Productivity and efficiency – fundamentally, the success of any port will remain underpinned by the competitiveness it offers to customers both on the water and inland

  • Active role in supply chains – A compelling proposition to customers has to be more than just the traditional role of goods handling. Ports can play a vital role in creating and realsing shared value for as proactive links in broader supply chains as a whole

  • Logistics zones – A modern major ports is much more than a point of transit. It is the home to a range of other economic activity and value addition. A particularly significant opportunity is port-centric logistics, realizing both economic and environmental benefits. To maximise the potential for port-centric development models, the right planning processes have to be in place to unlock the ambition and capital of the port operator

  • Digital platforms – the modern port is increasingly a gateway for data as well as goods. Digital platforms can realise major value through providing better visibility and increased supply chain efficiency both contractual and physical

  • Hinterland connectivity – The value of the UK’s ports to the economy is already considerable - £9.7bn in 2017 – but this value and maximising the growth ambitions of the UK’s port operators is largely dependent to how well ports are connected to the major inland economic and population centres. By way of example, 7 out of every 10 cars made in the UK are exported via a UKMPG member.

Port owners and operators relish the responsibility to deliver a number of these factors themselves, says UKMPG’s CEO Tim Morris, but many can only be fully delivered through partnership with others - customers, supply chain partners and, crucially, governments at all levels.

"Brexit and uncertain times make Strong Ports more vital than ever for the UK," said Morris. "The research being shared at UKMPG’s London International Shipping Week roundtable highlights the five key characteristic of Strong Ports for long term success."

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