Global trade, and the maritime sector that enables so many of its flows, faces uncertain and challenging times, according to the UK Major Ports Group.
Research from maritime industry research experts Drewry has identified a small number of key factors that will make a port resilient and robust through all weathers.
The five key characteristic of Strong Ports for long term success are:
1. 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;
2. 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 realizing shared value for as proactive links in broader supply chains as a whole;
3. 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;
4. 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;
5. Hinterland connectivity – The value of the UK’s ports to the economy is already considerable, as it reached GBP 9.7 billion in 2017, but this value and maximizing 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.
Each of these characteristics are built on the essential foundations of safe and sustainable operation, Drewry noted.
Port owners and operators relish the responsibility to deliver a number of these factors themselves. But many can only be fully delivered through partnership with others – customers, supply chain partners and, crucially, Governments at all levels.
“As an island nation with 95% of the UK trade arriving or departing by sea, we have always relied on our ports. Brexit and uncertain times make Strong Ports more vital than ever for the U.K.,” Tim Morris, CEO of the UK Major Ports Group, said.
“Delivering Strong Ports requires action from both ports & the Government. The ports are ready to play their part. We look forward to working with Government to do more, boosting the UK’s capability to trade and jobs and prosperity in the UK’s coastal communities.”