Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Brexit spurs UK Humber ports

Brexit spurs UK Humber ports

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The container ship Anja arrives into the Port of Immingham on the south bank of the Humber Estuary, eastern England, on October 5. lindsey parnaby/afp

Brexit spurs UK Humber ports

Brexit has brought hope to the windswept docks of the Humber River, a key goods gateway in northeast England where tens of millions of pounds are being invested to prepare for a potential increase in shipping.

In Immingham, a gritty town of around 11,000 inhabitants in the shadow of the sprawling port and oil refineries, former dock worker Willie Weir said business was already “picking up”.

Associated British Ports (ABP) – which owns four Humberside facilities – is spending big to attract new business, raising hopes for a return of the area’s former industrial glory.

The company is betting the country’s departure from the EU next March will snarl southeastern hubs like Dover, where limited space and hourly sailings could bump up against post-Brexit bureaucracy, leaving traders looking for alternatives.

“There are certainly some opportunities available for the Humber ports,” ABP’s head of Humber communications Dafydd Williams said during a recent tour of its vast Immingham complex.

The company reckons Humberside can better handle the burdens and delays that Brexit may bring, with space available for new customs facilities and waiting areas for trucks.

It believes the longer shipping routes across the North Sea from Europe will allow new bureaucracy to be done aboard vessels, which is difficult during a 90-minute crossing from Calais to Dover.

ABP has dedicated £50 million ($66 million) to expand its container terminals, spending £14 million last year at Hull, which led to several new European routes.

It now hopes for similar results in Immingham, Britain’s biggest port by tonnage, with investment in loading cranes, tugs and a re-engineered dockside.

‘It’s just economics’

Unifeeder – a shortsea carrier that imports most of its Britain-bound cargo through Immingham – said it is seeing more container customers switching from southern ports.

“The cargo naturally finds the easiest course,” said the company’s UK manager, Andrew Ellis. “It’s just economics.”

Amar Ramudhin, a logistics expert at Hull University Business School, believes leaving the EU creates “big potential” for a shift to the north.

Peter Baker, an industry analyst, said Humber ports offered better value, as they are closer to a raft of distribution centres for firms like Amazon and Ikea.

With more of the journey done at sea, costs, congestion and CO2 emissions all fall, he said.

But Baker said he doubted the Humber ports will be less adversely impacted by Brexit.

“If there are customs checks and port health [checks] and everything else, it’s going to be just as difficult in Immingham as it would be in Dover,” he said.

Andrew Byrne, managing director of DFDS Seaways – Immingham’s biggest shipping line with its own terminal and 35 sailings a week on eight vessels – also called talk of a Dover exodus “misguided”.

‘Freeport status’

He said his company had also seen “no evidence” of a big shift to containers among its customers.

“We’re hoping for the best but preparing for the worst,” Byrne said of its Brexit preparations.

Brexit sympathies run high in North East Lincolnshire, the region where Immingham is located.

In the 2016 referendum, 70 per cent voted to leave the EU – one of the highest results in the country and much higher than the overall national result of 52 per cent.

Martin Vickers, a pro-Brexit MP from the ruling Conservatives representing Immingham, wants the government to spur regeneration by giving the region freeport status.

He predicted the area would “without doubt” reap a Brexit dividend.

But across the Humber, staunchly pro-EU Hull MP Karl Turner, who represents the most pro-Brexit constituency the opposition Labour party holds, is sceptical about Brexit benefits.

He predicts Britain leaving the EU next March without any kind of deal would be “an unmitigated disaster for the ports”.

“There’s a bigger risk to the wider economy which I think ABP have not really taken on board,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • PM to vet NY holiday dates

    The Ministry of Economy and Finance submitted a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen asking him to formally set a five-day national holiday from August 17-21 to make up for the Khmer New Year holiday in April that was postponed. Finance minister Aun Pornmoniroth sent

  • Cambodia rejects UN rights claim

    Cambodia's Permanent Mission to the UN Office in Geneva on Friday hit back at David Kaye, the UN special rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression after he raised concerns over the repression of free speech and

  • Snaring may spawn diseases

    The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has warned that snaring of animals has become a crisis that poses a serious risk to wildlife in Southeast Asia and could spawn the transmission of zoonotic diseases to humans. Its July 9 report entitled Silence of the Snares: Southeast Asia’

  • Ex-party leader, gov’t critic named as secretary of state

    A former political party leader known for being critical of the government has been appointed secretary of state at the Ministry of Rural Development, a royal decree dated July 9 said. Sourn Serey Ratha, the former president of the Khmer Power Party (KPP), told The Post

  • Residence cards set for over 80,000 immigrants

    The Ministry of Interior plans to grant residence cards to more than 80,000 immigrants to better keep track of them. The ministry announced the plan on July 10, following the results of an immigration census. “An inter-ministerial committee and many operational working groups have been set up

  • Kingdom produces PPE gear

    Medical supplies from Cambodia have been donated to member countries of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to assist in the fight against Covid-19, said an ADB report published on July 9. The report stated that the supplies were donated as a response to global efforts to

  • Kingdom, US vow stronger ties

    At an academic forum on Saturday to celebrate 70 years of Cambodia-US diplomatic ties, Cambodian researchers and officials expressed hope of encouraging US investments and for that country to deepen and improve its bilateral relations. Held at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, it reviewed the past 70

  • Fifteen Cambodians from Saudi get Covid-19

    The Ministry of Health on Sunday confirmed 15 more imported cases of Covid. The 15 men ‒ all Cambodian aged 21 to 33 ‒ arrived from Saudi Arabia on Friday via a connecting flight in Malaysia. They were travelling with 79 other passengers, three of them women. The ministry said 80 of the

  • Ministry requests school opening

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport on Thursday said it would request a decision from Prime Minister Hun Sen to allow a small number of schools to reopen next month. Ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha said if the request is granted, higher-standard schools will reopen

  • Kingdom eyes India FTA, China deal set for August

    Cambodia is studying the possibility of establishing a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with India to open a new market with the second-largest regional economy. This comes as an FTA with China is scheduled to be signed next month while similar negotiations with South Korea