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Displaying items by tag: British Ports Assoc

On the concluding day of the British Ports Association conference in Belfast as previously reported on Afloat, the BHA and UK Major Ports Group (UKMPG) have responded to the latest EU withdrawal agreement currently awaiting parliamentary approval.

Under the latest deal, Ports Strategy reports, that Northern Ireland will officially be part of the UK’s customs territory but with an EU/UK customs border in the Irish Sea, meaning that, de facto, NI follows the EU's customs rules. UK customs authorities will check goods at British (ferry)ports before they enter NI and ensure tariff-free passage provided the final destination remains NI. The Democratic Unionist Party has refused to back the new agreement.

Richard Ballantyne, chief executive of the BPA, has cautiously welcomed the news. “There remains some fundamental issues for ports across Britain and Ireland to manage,” he said.

“We have repeatedly warned that a no-deal Brexit would be unacceptable and we now look forward to a more orderly process and reiterate our view that a future relationship should prioritise the flow of trade at our frontiers. The trade between the island of Ireland and Great Britain is important and particularly that between Northern Ireland and Britain,” he added.

More here on the Brexit Deal development. 

Published in Ports & Shipping

Recently announced were the finalists for the inaugural Maritime UK Awards which will be held next month during the Southampton Boat Show.

According to the British Ports Association (BPA) the winners will be announced in front of 400 of the industry’s finest at a ceremony in Southampton on Thursday 19 September.

Included in the list of finalists are a number of UK ports among them Afloat adds the Port of Dover as previously reported.

The awards focus on a wide range of areas including business growth, innovation, sustainability, diversity, education and the future.

The finalists from the ports sector are as follows:
• Port of Dover for the International Trade Award - awarded to businesses that are actively involved in international trade and have significantly increased their import/export activity or attracted Foreign Direct Investment
• Port of Cromarty Firth, Port of Dover and Associated British Ports for the Sustainability Award - awarded to organisations that demonstrate exceptional true commitment to sustainability
• Port of Tyne for the 2050 Award - awarded to businesses that are taking steps to capitalise upon the opportunities presented within the Government’s Maritime 2050 strategy launched earlier this year
• Port of Cromarty Firth for the Coastal Powerhouse Award - awarded to those organisations that have proven themselves as a driver or catalyst for growth within a coastal community

British Ports Association members Royal Haskoning and Hill Dickinson are also both finalists for the Employer of the Year Award.

Commenting on yesterday’s announcement, Sara Walsh, Corporate Services Manager at the British Ports Association said: “We are delighted to see a number of UK ports being shortlisted in the first ever Maritime UK Awards. The ports industry plays a vital role in our economy, facilitating over 95% off the UK’s international trade. As demonstrated by the number of ports who are finalists for the Awards, the sector provides important hubs of regional and nationally significant economic activity and employment, often in areas of deprivation.

To see all three finalists of the Sustainability Award being ports (Port of Cromarty Firth, Port of Dover and Associated British Ports) is a testament to the UK ports sector and what we have achieved to deliver a true commitment to improve sustainability. We are continuing to advise on how Government can work with industry to deliver further improvements and we are committed to supporting sustainability and decarbonisation, having produced our first Sustainability Charter last year.

Published in Ports & Shipping

According to the British Ports Association they have welcomed the UK's Government’s announcement of “up to 10 new freeports”

(Noting Afloat adds see related story on the Irish Sea Port of Holyhead, Wales). 

The BPA has developed ambitious complementary Port Enterprise and Development Zone proposals.

Commenting on the announcement, BPA's chief executive Richard Ballantyne said: “We are pleased that Ministers recognise the vital economic role that ports play and we are keen to explore with the Government how this can be boosted further. We also welcome additional focus on how ports can further support national and regional economies.

Many of the benefits of a traditional ‘free port’ can be achieved in the UK through existing processes, but we look forward to working with Government on how a UK-specific model can boost sustainable development in and around ports and add real value.

The British Ports Association is working with ports and airports on ambitious complementary proposals for ‘Port Enterprise & Development Zones’ that will support economic activity across a much wider range of ports all across the UK. These proposals contain a series of recommendations around planning, enterprise and the tax system that could be incorporated into or sit alongside a UK freeport model. As well as Teesport, ports like the Tyne, also in England and the Port of Milford Haven, Wales (see Afloat's related coverage) are at an advanced stage in looking at such options.

The potential selection of 10 UK Free Port sites could be transformational for some locations but three will need to be some balance to ensure that this ports which don’t have status are not disadvantaged. Having Free Port status could be a beneficial marketing asset which helps attract inward investment and the Government will need to satisfy itself that this is not at the expense of other UK locations. That’s why we are proposing the wider concept of a Port Zone status, alongside the Free Port proposals, at all UK Ports might be a way to encourage the industry to grow cohesively.

It will be important that any Free Port designations are industry led. The newly formed advisory Department for International Trade's Panel should therefore take a bottom up approach and avoid where possible political pressures.

Ports are also important economic hubs in their own right and are often the centre of broader economic landscape. Many businesses recognise the economic and environmental benefits of being based in and around UK ports. Ports are gateways for 95% of the UK’s international trade but are also the foundation of the wider marine economy including everything from offshore wind to marine recreation and tourism.“

Alongside the well publicised Teesport proposals other ports are pursuing free port proposals, as noted by the Department for International Trade’s press release, including the Port of Tyne in addition to Milford Haven.

At the Port of Tyne a site could support advanced manufacturing through a multiple site designation a ‘virtual free port’ which could include local manufacturers such as Nissan as Afloat previously reported regarding Brexit. 

In Pembrokeshire around the UK’s largest energy port, Milford Haven, a port zone could support the oil and gas cluster, promote reshoring of some fish processing and bolster marine energy generation deployment.

Published in Ports & Shipping

#Ports&Shipping - Following the recent publication of the UK Government’s advice on contingency planning for a ‘no deal’ Brexit outcome, the British Ports Association (BPA) has suggested that negotiators have it in their power to agree a deal that would end months of uncertainty regarding the future arrangements at UK and EU borders.

Highlighting the merits of the UK Government’s proposal agreed at Chequers and subsequently set out in the Brexit White Paper in July, the BPA is urging both sides to rally and agree.

According to the BHA's Chief Executive Richard Ballantyne said: “The paper underlines the implications of a ‘no deal’, in terms of trading arrangements at ports. While it is sensible that the Government considers all outcomes we are hopeful that both sides will want to ensure that ports are free flowing on day one.

For parts of the ports industry, namely Roll-on Roll-off port operations, which handle the majority of the UK’s trade with the EU, a ‘no-deal’ could be a serious challenge and lead to significant disruption at the border. The Chequers agreement and the Government’s Brexit White Paper proposals offered a solution to the challenge of possible new customs and borders checks, which to date appears to be the only viable option. We would urge Michel Barnier and his colleagues to seriously consider this proposal. Without agreement the fluidity of tens of thousands of freight vehicles which travel between the UK and the EU on a daily basis is at stake. It is vital that we get this right. Over the last two years we have had productive discussions with the UK Government on Brexit and we do feel that UK officials have crafted a viable plan which with some preparation would work for both sides. This would mean we avoid the significant disruption that may occur at certain ports that are important international gateways for both the UK and the EU.”

Leaving the EU Customs Union and Single Market means that without some form of agreement goods travelling to and from Europe will be subject to new authorisations and other requirements as of March 2019. Included in the UK Government’s ‘no-deal’ advice is that traders will need to undertake new border processes which could be most challenging for freight on lorries travelling through ‘roll-on roll-off’ ferry port gateways. These are ports such as Dover, Holyhead, Immingham and Portsmouth and Ro-Ro ports collectively facilitate the majority of the UK’s EU trade. There will of course be opportunities for IT solutions for customs procedures but these could take time and all those in the logistics chain will need to assess how they will meet the new arrangements.

For most other types of ports handling bulks and containerised cargo, the likely new customs procedures should be relatively straightforward to achieve. However there are still questions around other frontier inspections such as port health standards which are mandated under EU law and without agreement will be difficult to overcome, particularly in respect of the UK’s exports through the EU.

The UK Government’s ‘no-deal’ advisory notices on trading with the EU can be read or downloaded by clicking here.

Afloat adds the Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO) also has the full document (PDF download) from the EU Commission on preparing for the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union. Also for more related coverage, click here. 

Published in Ports & Shipping

Ferry & Car Ferry News The ferry industry on the Irish Sea, is just like any other sector of the shipping industry, in that it is made up of a myriad of ship operators, owners, managers, charterers all contributing to providing a network of routes carried out by a variety of ships designed for different albeit similar purposes.

All this ferry activity involves conventional ferry tonnage, 'ro-pax', where the vessel's primary design is to carry more freight capacity rather than passengers. This is in some cases though, is in complete variance to the fast ferry craft where they carry many more passengers and charging a premium.

In reporting the ferry scene, we examine the constantly changing trends of this sector, as rival ferry operators are competing in an intensive environment, battling out for market share following the fallout of the economic crisis. All this has consequences some immediately felt, while at times, the effects can be drawn out over time, leading to the expense of others, through reduced competition or takeover or even face complete removal from the marketplace, as witnessed in recent years.

Arising from these challenging times, there are of course winners and losers, as exemplified in the trend to run high-speed ferry craft only during the peak-season summer months and on shorter distance routes. In addition, where fastcraft had once dominated the ferry scene, during the heady days from the mid-90's onwards, they have been replaced by recent newcomers in the form of the 'fast ferry' and with increased levels of luxury, yet seeming to form as a cost-effective alternative.

Irish Sea Ferry Routes

Irrespective of the type of vessel deployed on Irish Sea routes (between 2-9 hours), it is the ferry companies that keep the wheels of industry moving as freight vehicles literally (roll-on and roll-off) ships coupled with motoring tourists and the humble 'foot' passenger transported 363 days a year.

As such the exclusive freight-only operators provide important trading routes between Ireland and the UK, where the freight haulage customer is 'king' to generating year-round revenue to the ferry operator. However, custom built tonnage entering service in recent years has exceeded the level of capacity of the Irish Sea in certain quarters of the freight market.

A prime example of the necessity for trade in which we consumers often expect daily, though arguably question how it reached our shores, is the delivery of just in time perishable products to fill our supermarket shelves.

A visual manifestation of this is the arrival every morning and evening into our main ports, where a combination of ferries, ro-pax vessels and fast-craft all descend at the same time. In essence this a marine version to our road-based rush hour traffic going in and out along the commuter belts.

Across the Celtic Sea, the ferry scene coverage is also about those overnight direct ferry routes from Ireland connecting the north-western French ports in Brittany and Normandy.

Due to the seasonality of these routes to Europe, the ferry scene may be in the majority running between February to November, however by no means does this lessen operator competition.

Noting there have been plans over the years to run a direct Irish –Iberian ferry service, which would open up existing and develop new freight markets. Should a direct service open, it would bring new opportunities also for holidaymakers, where Spain is the most visited country in the EU visited by Irish holidaymakers ... heading for the sun!

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