Secretary of State for International Trade highlights opportunities for ports in facilitating trade and driving the UK economy

The Secretary of State for International Trade, Liam Fox MP, last night (12 September 2018) welcomed over 200 senior port executives, MPs, Peers and industry representatives to the Houses of Parliament to celebrate the UK ports industry and its contribution to and role in our trading economy, at a reception organised by the British Ports Association.

Ports will be at the frontier of the UK’s new trade agenda as we reach out and seek to strike new trade deals across the globe. 95% of the UK’s trade moves through our seaports and with trade high on the political agenda, ports are keen to engage with policymakers and the public to articulate the value they bring to the UK. Unlike many other countries, the UK’s ports are privately run. Commercial operations are independent of Government, employing over 101,000 people, contributing £7.6bn to the UK’s GVA and paying £1.5bn in taxes annually.

Addressing the reception, Secretary of State Liam Fox MP said:

“Ports are, quite simply, Britain’s gateway to the world. And they have a brilliant future at the forefront of our global economic ambitions as Britain leaves the European Union. We know how important it will be to preserve vital existing trading links with our current partners in the EU. And for the first time in four decades, we will determine our own independent trade policy, able to seize the opportunity to establish new economic relationships across the globe.”

Alec Don, Chairman of the British Ports Association (which represents over 350 UK ports, harbours and piers) and Chief Executive of the Port of Milford Haven, spoke to the audience of his vision for unleashing the entrepreneurial power of dynamic, investing port businesses:

BPA ports currently have planned over £1.2bn of investments, and collectively all of the nation’s ports handle 95% of the UK’s trade in goods. That is over half a trillion pounds of trade. In these times all of our national efforts are becoming focused on the development of our international trade. There is simply no question that the continuous development of port infrastructure has always been and will always continue to be a matter of overriding economic importance and in the national interest in support of our trade.

Small ports and harbours are central to the economic life of their communities and they likewise need to be able to invest. And so here is the question: Can we develop the national political will to do what is necessary to deliver a 21st century infrastructure built on 19th and 20th century roots at a pace that meets the market need? In this day and age we fully recognise that sustainable development requires the strongest partnership between government and industry. My invitation is that MPs with ports in or near their constituencies set out to find a common voice and form a parliamentary movement.”

Economic & Environmental Sustainability
The British Ports Association recently launched a new Sustainable Development Resolution which commits to supporting port development that benefit the economy in a sustainable manner. It includes 15 commitments which the BPA is working with Government and industry to improve, and also practical commitments to supporting initiatives such as Ecoports and the Responsible Fishing Ports Scheme, launched earlier this year.

Media / Photos
Photos are available for publication in connection with this story: