Feature, Freight News, Sea

Ports see first signs of recovery

[ June 8, 2020   //   ]

There are signs of recovery for certain industries, according to a report published by the British Ports Association (BPA) and analysts Port Centric Logistics Partners on 8 June.

It says that while UK GDP has fallen by 2% in volume in the first quarter of this year, the greatest fall since 2008, the government is making plans for the safe re-opening of the economy.

BPA chief executive Richard Ballantyne said that while there had been a slowdown in containerised imports, demand for consumer goods should soon be re-established as the retail sector reopens in accordance with social distancing guidelines.

There was a slowdown in ro ro freight – in the first quarter of 2020. Accompanied traffic declined by 12.4% compared to 2019. Unaccompanied freight was less severely hit, reduced by 9.5%, but still significant. However, perhaps more than most this sector has helped keep supermarkets stocked with food and essentials during the lockdown.

PCLP partner Stephen Taylor, added: “We are not likely to know the complete extent of the impact of COVID-19 on different aspects of the economy for some years, and in many cases, the damage is still being done.”

However: “We do see anecdotal signs of the beginnings of recovery in some cases. However, not all sectors will recover at an equal pace.”

The construction sector has traditionally been a strong barometer for the economy,  and government guidance does indicate that sites can re-open with social distance measures in place, which may aid the situation for the sector somewhat, he said.

British car production fell by -99.7% in April, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. Taylor added: “It is expected that demand will soon be re-established overseas; welcome news for the UK economy, as manufacturers of motor vehicles, machinery and transport equipment, will be able to return to producing the major share of UK exports.”

Imported vegetables, fruit, meat products and beverages all declined in Q1 2020 but at a much slower pace than the most other – 5.8% for fruit and vegetables, against 15.8% for all other commodities (excluding oil and gas).