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UK ports now face greater uncertainty due to COVID-19 than Brexit

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Dry Bulk,

Just 36% of UK ports feel confident about their business outlook over the next 12 months and 86% reported either substantial or severe impacts on shipping and customer activities, according to new data published by the British Ports Association (BPA).

Data also shows that while most ports have not taken advantage of government support measures, over half (55%) are not satisfied with the mechanisms and funding available.

The BPA has recently published the results of a survey completed by a wide variety of ports to determine the impact of COVID-19 on port businesses.

Commenting on the results, Phoebe Warneford-Thomson, Policy & Economic Analyst at the British Ports Association, said: “Several months into the Coronavirus pandemic, it does not come as a surprise that 86% of ports report a substantial or severe impact on their customer activities and that just 36% feel confident about the year ahead. Those with particular concerns are ports involved in passenger activities, the oil sector and manufacturing-related cargo and fish landings.

"The results also show that 44% of ports have seen difficulties obtaining PPE and that support for furlough has been the most popular government support measure, so we were glad to see the Chancellor’s recent Job Retention scheme extension announcement.

"Even in a time of crisis, ports must ensure all services are maintained, such as cargo facilities, security arrangements and safety systems, often with a full staff. However, ports are not only seeing a substantial impact on their customer activity and obstacles to commercial operations but facing requests for assistance from port users too. Ports have quite literally helped keep the country supplied during the pandemic.”

UK ports perform a critical role for UK supply chains, so the government must ensure there are measures in place to ensure ports can play a crucial role in the UK’s economic recovery from this crisis. Therefore, the BPA will be publishing a set of sector-specific proposals in an Economic Recovery Plan for government shortly, to highlight our proposals for how ports can assist Britain in its recovery from potentially what could be the deepest recession since records began.

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