British Ports Association statement on port congestion issues

Posted on October 13, 2021

“Responding to the recent attention on container port issues the British Ports Association, the national body for ports, harbours and marine terminals, which represents gateways that facilitate 86% of our maritime trade, issued the following statement:

Whilst some are extremely busy, the overwhelming majority of UK ports are currently operating normally. We have a variety of port gateways around the UK and they are continuing to keep the country supplied.

Container ports around the world are dealing with backlogs in containers, originally stemming from the post COVID-19 lockdowns when we saw surges in activities and pressures on cargo storage. Getting empty containers back to Asia and other locations has been challenging but the shipping industry is doing its best to meet global demands. This has been a real issue in North America and continental Europe.

A particular issue UK ports are also experiencing surrounds the much publicised lack of haulage. This has meant that some freight is not being collected as rapidly as it would normally. The situation is impacting all types of ports, not just container terminals. It has resulted in some further delays for a range of ports and terminal operations are working with their customers to get these goods out of their ports to avoid further congestion. Also this is a peak period in the freight calendar as the pre-Christmas order books create an additional surge in the demand for the ever import hungry British economy.

The maritime sector is vital to the UK economy and the ports and shipping industry are working closely to keep Britain open for business. Containerised trade carries manufactured products, consumer goods and other smaller supplies around the globe. Containers account for approximately 15% of UK port tonnage.”

Richard Ballantyne, Chief Executive, British Ports Association ​

About BPA

The British Ports Association represents the interests of over 100 port members, covering more than 400 ports, terminal operators and port facilities.

The UK ports industry plays a key role in the country’s economy as 95% of the UK’s international trade – imports and exports – is carried through British ports.

UK ports also handle more than 60 million international and domestic passenger journeys each year.

The UK port industry is the second largest in Europe, handling around 500 million tonnes of freight each year.

UK ports directly employ around 115,000 people.

The British Ports Association have produced a video which highlights the importance of ports to the UK’s economy.


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