The UK’s attention is switching to the future role of its ports, harbours and seafarers, which is expected to gain importance as the nation launches Brexit talks.
The focus is turning to a rise in world trade, which is likely to increase the 95% of imports and exports that currently pass through UK’s sea ports. This is coupled with the continued growth of merchant ships, in terms of size, and the UK’s dependence on imported oil, gas and biofuel.
Additionally, the nation’s passenger numbers on cruise ships and ferries look set to continue to grow, albeit with industry concerns voiced about the need to retain agreeable border control relationships with UK’s European neighbours.
“As so often in our history when facing political and international pressures, our relationship with the sea provides the strong and enduring stage from which our island and its people can make their mark, whether in trade, defence or diplomacy,” Commodore Barry Bryant, Director General of Seafarers UK, said.
“Our unique situation and the quality of our maritime offerings in seafaring people, port and supply chain operations and financial services remains second to none and give us a strong negotiating hand,” Bryant added.
Commenting on UK’s future customs and trading arrangements, Mark Simmonds, the British Ports Association’s Policy Manager, said that the new customs arrangements should prioritise trade facilitation and look to replicate the benefits of the EU Customs Union.
UK ports support 344,000 jobs ashore, handling almost 500 million tonnes of freight and more than 60 million passengers every year, according to Maritime London.