To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that ports in the UK (1) remain cost-effective destinations for global container shipping services, and (2) remain able to serve the needs of British exporters and importers, taking into consideration (a) any increase in the average size of container vessels, (b) shipping lines’ rationalisation of port calls, and (c) the reduction in the number of shipping lines serving ports in northwest Europe.
As an island nation 95% of the UK’s imports and exports arrive via our ports and by sea. The UK’s economy, plus its dependency on imports, mean that the UK will remain a destination for shipping irrespective of cost, and consisting of either direct traffic, or transhipped.
The highly competitive, private sector UK ports market offers cost effective, attractive and reliable services, undertaking significant commercial investment to do so. A number of UK ports have made large investments to cater for the biggest container vessels, and to improve services to handle growing vessel sizes across a variety of markets.
Larger vessels mean fewer direct port calls, but a broadly similar level of freight being handled. Managing this remains a commercial matter for ports and shipping companies.