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Ports are enabling the supply chains of the future

UK ports see better logistics networks and new trading routes emerging post-Brexit and Covid-19

NOW, more than ever, businesses need the confidence that their supply chains can cope with whatever the economy and the world throws at them.

For the better part of 2020, ports have played a pivotal role during the Covid-19 pandemic in ensuring the UK remains fed, fuelled and supplied with key medical products.

As the primary gateways for goods entering and leaving the country, ports understand first-hand the immense challenges now, and ahead.

Forward-thinking operators also understand the importance of building supply chain strategies that are agile and resilient enough to withstand whatever comes their way, including adopting more sustainable practices to reduce CO2 emissions and costs.

While the full economic effect of the pandemic and the impact of the UK’s future relationship with the European Union is yet to be realised, one certainty is that it will irrevocably change the UK’s role in the global economy and global trade.

Mark Whitford, Peel PortsCovid-19 and the Brexit transition have each brought the work of ports into sharper focus
Mark Whitworth, chief executive, Peel Ports


Resilience will need to be at the forefront of everyone’s minds over the next 12 months, as new border arrangements governing the flow of goods between the UK and the EU — and especially Britain and Ireland — take effect. Business needs to be prepared, well in advance of the scheduled December 31 deadline for the end of the UK’s transition out of the EU.

There have already been stark warnings of the potential impact of Brexit and major delays at ports which could see up to 7,000 trucks queuing at Dover for up to two days — delays that could have serious financial and environmental implications.

Every minute that goods are delayed waiting for border checks incurs greater costs to businesses and stops the flow of vital goods such as food and medicines.

The Dover Strait now accounts for roughly three quarters of all ro-ro trade with the Continent (it was less than half before the Maastricht Treaty took effect in 1993), despite the fact that much of the UK’s warehousing is situated in the Midlands and the North.

Peel Ports has long argued the benefits of the port of Liverpool and its proximity to market. Using ports close to the origin or destination of the cargo delivers significant benefit. Clearly, fewer road or rail miles means less fuel is consumed on the land leg of the journey. This does not just reduce cost, but also removes carbon from the supply chain.

A port’s proximity to markets has other, indirect benefits, not only acting as a strategic gateway, but also as a facilitator of supply chain activity.

Whether it’s full processing, product finalisation or implementation of storage solutions, being close by means a port can fulfil a wide range of logistics activities, as well as minimise the risk of disruption as a result of transport congestion.

Covid-19 and the Brexit transition have each brought the essential work of ports into sharper focus and provided a springboard for businesses to reassess and redefine their supply chain strategies, building back greener and driving forward greater efficiencies in the transportation of goods.

All businesses will be impacted by the changes Brexit will bring, but the preparations undertaken by the UK’s ports industry will relieve pressure on traditional routes, increase capacity and introduce new trade routes.

To find out more about building resilience in the supply chain download Peel Ports whitepaper here.

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