Feature, Freight News, Sea

Port freight shows Brexit effect

[ June 9, 2021   //   ]

Freight through UK ports fell by 9% to 103.9 million tonnes in the first three months of 2021 compared with January to March 2020, according to the Department for Transport’s latest figures. Inward freight fell by 17%, compared to an 8% fall in export traffic. Total unitised traffic fell by 13% to 4.2 million units.

British Ports Association policy manager and economic analyst, Phoebe Warneford-Thomson said the statistics were the first to show the aggregate impact of Brexit on port volumes, although it was difficult to fully separate its effect from that of continuing Covid lockdowns.

She said the figures are consistent with other reports from trade statistics that suggest that businesses stockpiled ahead of the Brexit deadline in the fourth quarter of 2020, which led to a quieter first quarter than usual. Full import controls will not come into force until January 2022, so the full extent of the impact of Brexit on trade – temporary or permanent – has not yet been realised.