Di­vert from Dover and avoid cri­sis, says ABP

The Daily Telegraph - - Business - By James Roth­well BREXIT COR­RE­SPON­DENT

THE UK ship­ping in­dus­try could avoid a post-brexit “Ar­maged­don sce­nario” by di­vert­ing sea cargo from Dover to east­ern ports such as Felixs­towe, the UK’S largest port op­er­a­tor has said.

In a pol­icy pa­per handed to the Gov­ern­ment this week, As­so­ci­ated Bri­tish Ports (ABP) called for the UK to re­duce its de­pen­dency on Dover and in­stead in­vest in ports on the Thames, East Anglia and the Hum­ber. The op­er­a­tor said this would re­duce dis­rup­tion to trade by re­mov­ing the risk of a “bot­tle­neck” of traf­fic in Dover, which cur­rently re­ceives up to 16,000 trucks a day.

It comes af­ter Tim Wag­gott, the head of the port of Dover, warned it was fac­ing a pos­si­ble “Ar­maged­don sce­nario” of de­lays and traf­fic con­ges­tion due to tougher cus­toms checks af­ter Brexit.

ABP also urged the Gov­ern­ment to con­sider es­tab­lish­ing “free ports” on the east coast, which would abol­ish du­ties on im­ported raw ma­te­ri­als or com­po­nents used in man­u­fac­tured ex­ports.

“Ports and mar­itime rep­re­sent a ma­jor global op­por­tu­nity for the UK econ­omy; an op­por­tu­nity for Bri­tain to in­crease its trade with coun­tries through­out the world,” said James Cooper, ABP’S chief ex­ec­u­tive.

“To de­liver on that po­ten­tial, we want to see an in­dus­trial strat­egy that is ca­pa­ble of be­ing gen­uinely trans­for­ma­tive.” In its 10-point plan, ABP said this could be achieved by set­ting up a “UK Ports and Lo­gis­tics Brexit Task Force”. Rishi Su­nak, the Con­ser­va­tive MP, said: “Free ports are an ex­cit­ing post-brexit pol­icy idea that can turbo-charge eco­nomic growth in our re­gions, boost man­u­fac­tur­ing and drive ex­ports.”

How­ever, Char­lie El­ph­icke, the MP for Dover, said: “Ev­ery­one knows that the fastest, most ef­fi­cient and best route for trade to the con­ti­nent is through Dover – and we’re work­ing tire­lessly to see that it stays that way.”

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