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            december 08, 2019

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Brexit uncertainties result in cargo traffic increase through UK's Peel Ports


Cargo shippers are diverting goods to more ports across Britain in a move to ensure stable supply lines due to uncertainty over whether the UK will leave the European Union without an agreement, a top port executive said.
The European Union's Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said recently that there was still a risk that Britain could exit the bloc chaotically with no divorce agreement, reported Shipping Gazette.
Brexit has been delayed for a third time, until the end of January 2020, and Britain is headed for a snap general election in December designed to break the impasse.
Meanwhile, Peel Ports - the UK's second-largest port operator - has seen more cargo traffic shifting to other gateways to avoid over-dependence on Dover in southern England, which is Europe's busiest ferry port.
Peel Ports chief executive Mark Whitworth said the group had witnessed an increase in TEU container volumes as importers switch to using box containers rather than trucks to alleviate dependence on ports such as Dover.
Dover is the biggest UK port that can handle trucks, which are shipped in special roll-on, roll-off carriers. Using box containers instead allows more delivery options.
"We are seeing it twofold - through the container flows into our ports and an uplift of broadly around 6 per cent (year-on-year) certainly through our BG shipping line," Mr Whitworth said, referring to its freight company that operates between the continent, the UK and Ireland.
"What you are seeing is a migration towards more unitised cargo," he told Reuters. "Therefore, they have a wider choice of points of entry."
Privately owned Peel Ports, whose terminals include Liverpool in the north of England and Sheerness and Chatham in the south, has annual container volumes of over 1.2 million TEU.
To try to avoid disruption, countries including France and the Netherlands - which have major port connections with Britain - continue to work on contingency measures including hiring more veterinarians to oversee the handling of livestock.
Mr Whitworth said Peel Ports had upgraded some 20 acres of space in recent weeks around various port facilities to ensure there was enough capacity, helped by a UK government investment initiative to boost readiness at ports across the country.
He added that warehouses around the group's ports were broadly full due to stockpiling by customers.
"You are generally finding that warehousing has been at a premium for some time - there is very little spare capacity of any significance," he said.

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