UK ports say pandemic has hurt business

UK ports say pandemic has hurt business

87% of British ports have said the COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on business and customer activity, according to the results of a UK-wide survey conducted by the British Ports Association (BPA).

The BPA said two-thirds of ports said they felt ‘somewhat confident’ about the business outlook for 2021 and a third felt ‘not so confident’.

When asked to summarise their outlook for 2021 in one word or sentence, the word most used by respondents was ‘challenge’, followed by ‘uncertain’, with other responses featuring the word ‘difficult’. Some said 2021 would bring more challenges than 2020.

Ports’ biggest concerns for 2021 were customer activity, the overall status of the economy, operational challenges posed by the pandemic, Brexit, and decreased revenue.

Commenting, Phoebe Warneford-Thomson, Policy Manager and Economic Analyst, at the British Ports Association said: “In most senses, the results from this survey were as expected, following the unimaginable and unprecedented challenges posed by 2020.

“The majority of ports stated that there had been negative impacts on their customer activity, which came at great cost to port businesses. Although not impacting all ports, Brexit changes are another great unknown.

“However, it is welcome to see some hope for what 2021 will bring. While there were some mixed views over whether the woes of 2020 will continue; two-thirds of respondents said they felt ‘somewhat confident’ about the business outlook for their port in 2021 and overall ports reflected a mood of tentative positivity.

“When asked to summarise their expectations for 2021 in just a few words, optimism did shine through. The most common word was challenge, but also popular was hope, opportunity and positivity.

“Indeed, this year will not be without its challenges, with continued disruption to the fishing industry and trade between the rest of the UK and Northern Ireland, and the staggered implementation of border controls continuing until June.

“However, 2021 should be a year of real opportunity too; as we hope to see the initial recovery to the economy post-COVID and have the chance to shape several key Government policies, including Freeports.

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