Freight News, Sea

Most ports remain confident, despite problems

[ October 21, 2021   //   ]

Despite the recent, well-publicised problems, most ports are at least “tentatively confident” about their business outlook in the coming 12 months, according to a survey by the British Ports Association (BPA).

However, a quarter “do not feel confident at all”, it adds.

Nearly half (47.3% ) of ports surveyed said that their performances had improved since this time last year, although 31.6% reported that their revenues has fallen.

However compared to pre-pandemic activity, two years ago, over half of the port executives surveyed reported that revenues were down. Despite this, 93% said ports would be investing in either new business services, property or infrastructure, in the coming 12 months.

BPA says the results reflect two overriding moods amongst the industry – one of optimism and opportunity – and another of caution and uncertainty.

Brexit was the most common major concern cited by ports, followed by a lack of investment, which was frequently reported by smaller ports. Climate change, port congestion, a lack of HGV drivers, the NI Protocol and the future of fishing industry were also common themes.

BPA chief executive Richard Ballantyne, said: “This survey indicates a mixed picture for the outlook of UK ports, characterised by cautious optimism for the end of 2021 and into 2022. It is perhaps not surprising that amongst the top concerns of UK port executives for the next 12 months are Brexit and port congestion, as well as the shortage of HGV drivers.

“However, despite uncertainty and volatility experienced by the ports industry over the last 18 months, three-quarters of ports are confident about their business over the next year. What is clear, is that our ports continue to deliver a thriving and competitive independent sector, with 93% investing in new services, property or infrastructure.”