The UK Chamber's CEO, Bob Sanguinetti, has published this joint op-ed in City AM with Richard Ballantyne and Tim Morris, the respective heads of the British Ports Association and UK Major Ports Group, to launch the new UK Ports for International Trade initiative
The United Kingdom was built on trade and our prosperity has long depended on the goods that travel through our great ports. But our ports also have a brilliant future in front of them.
That is why we are proud to be associated with a new campaign initiative from our sector, UK Ports for International Trade. We will be highlighting the opportunities that increasing international trade will create, through high-quality jobs and new investment. From car exports to food imports, more international trade will also mean growth in our port cities and towns, and more investment both there and across the UK. For consumers, international trade brings lower prices and better choice.
With organisations such as the British Ports Association, Maritime UK, the UK Chamber of Shipping, UK Major Ports Group and leading port operators already involved, we are excited and expect the campaign to grow. We have the backing of Government – with Secretary of State Dr Liam Fox expressing his clear support for our campaign.
There is no doubt that the UK’s future prosperity hinges on increasing trade both with Europe but particularly with the vibrant new markets of Asia, the Americas and Africa. These are the places where we will find brand-new opportunities, while at the same time we continue to cherish our trading relationships with countries closer to home.
Ports are, of course, vital to trade. Ships are responsible for moving 95 per cent of UK imports and exports of goods. Our ports are the gateway to the UK and our trading partners, handling almost 500 million tonnes of freight and directly contributing £23 billion in business turnover, £8 billion in Gross Value Added and more than 100,000 jobs.
Ports that rely on trade with the EU are just as much a focus as those that trade with countries further afield, as we look to build on our current links with Europe. But the ports industry and people in port towns realise that the opportunity that presents itself to us now is huge. Britain’s ports are already planning for the future by investing billions of pounds over the last five years. We stand ready to invest more.
Our ambition is to ensure ports communities benefit from the wealth that passes through them. Investment must mean high-quality jobs and enhanced quality of life for everyone who works or lives in our great port towns and cities. We are committed to making this happen. The potential of coastal regions all around the UK is there to be tapped, with a passionate work force and a huge appetite for building new links across the world. Increasing international trade provides a vital opportunity to bring development, new investment and high-quality jobs to regions throughout the UK, unlocking the potential of these important areas that are important parts of the nation’s future success.
Britain’s future is as an ambitious, globally successful international trading nation that sits at the centre of the world economy and is the free-trade hub for the world. Our ports must - and will - play a central role in this story.