Brexit minister, the Rt Hon. David Jones MP, visited Associated British Ports (ABP) Southampton yesterday (20 December) to discuss opportunities and hear views as the UK prepares for exit negotiations with the European Union (EU).
Mr Jones was keen to learn more about the impact of Brexit on the Port of Southampton as the UK prepares for the unprecedented and historic decision.
The Port of Southampton plays a crucial role in UK trade as the number one export port, exporting £40bn of British manufactured goods, including £36bn of exports destined for markets outside of the EU. It is also the UK’s number one cruise port and contributes more than £1bn to the national economy a year. The South East port also has a profound effect on employment with 15,000 jobs supported nationally.
ABP, the UK’s leading ports operator, informed Mr Jones of the details regarding its five-year plan to invest £170m into the port of Southampton.
Mr Jones, acknowledging ABP Southampton’s vital role, said: “As the country’s biggest vehicle handling port and second largest container terminal, the Port of Southampton has a proud history of serving the local community, UK, Europe and beyond.
“Known as the 'Gateway to the World' the port plays an important role both for UK manufacturers looking to access international markets and cruise passengers travelling across the globe.
“The Government recognises there may be challenges ahead, but is committed to getting the best deal for the UK, including the port and maritime industry.”
UK ports handle an estimated £511bn of goods, of which £228bn are exports. 30% of those pass through Associated British Ports, the owners and operators of the Port of Southampton.
Commenting on the role of the port, ABP Chief Executive, James Cooper, said: “The Port of Southampton is the UK's leading export port and plays an integral part in UK industry supply chains.
“Southampton handles around 900,000 vehicles annually, with 60 per cent of those British made cars en-route to markets in America, the Middle East and the Far East.
“We welcome the opportunity to discuss the challenges Brexit may present to the port and maritime industry, but also to add a supportive voice as the Government prepares for negotiations.
“We are already investing for the future and will continue to build on our existing strengths while exploring new markets that will help to ensure the port and the UK market, that relies on it for access to global markets, remains sustainable and prosperous.”