Over 300 years ago, Liverpool helped to usher in a new era of international trade, with the creation of the first commercial wet dock, an innovation that saw the city become one of the world’s leading ports. Times have changed of course, but Liverpool remains a vital component of the UK’s economy and a gateway to international trade.
This was underlined by the opening of phase 1 of the Liverpool2 container terminal in 2016. The interest shown by cargo owners and shipping lines has since given us the confidence to officially announce and progress with phase 2 of the development, adding to the £400m we have already invested at the site.
It is difficult to overstate how import this infrastructure is for businesses in the Northern Powerhouse region and indeed further afield. For example, the bulk of containerised goods arrive at southern UK ports, partly because they had the capacity and partly for historical reasons. However, with around 60% of the goods intended for destinations in the north, Liverpool2 provides the opportunity to rebalance the movement of containers, providing benefits in reduced costs, less congestion and lower emissions. Shorter inland journeys can also be crucial for food and drink companies especially, where products can have a limited shelf-life.
The port of Liverpool is unique in the UK in that is offers road, rail and canal connections linking directly to the heart of the UK mainland. This gives shippers easy access to a catchment of over 35 million people, almost 53% of the UK’s population, and an even an all-water route between our Port Salford warehouse near Manchester and ports across the world. We’re also introducing a new rail freight service, giving our customers with locations across the northern half of the UK a seamless transfer option between quayside and warehouse.
The potential of our facilities in Liverpool to transform the UK logistics scene has led us to partnering with the Department for International Trade on a series of event to help UK businesses reach new export markets. Over the years we’ve worked with many companies who use Liverpool to connect with customers across the world. That shared expertise, backed by the DIT’s advice, can help identify and overcome the barriers that SMEs in particular feel they face in increasing revenues from overseas.
This is part of our contribution to a much broader effort to ensure the continued success and prosperity of the region as a whole. I firmly believe that rebalancing the UK economy - creating a counterweight to the dominance of London – is crucial for the whole country, not only the Northern Powerhouse region. If we fail to do so then we will not improve our productivity and efficiency, leading us to fall behind our international rivals.
We know that there is a large body of support for this mission. There is clear evidence in the 200+ backers for our Cargo200 initiative, which has seen cargo owners and supply chain providers endorse direct deep-sea calls at Liverpool. This would give importers and exporters a more direct route to market, helping them to be more competitive, and creating a more sustainable model for the movement of goods.
This all echoes the innovation of 300 years ago and the spirit of making bold investments to help businesses excel is alive and well on Merseyside today. We are highly ambitious for the role we can play and confident that it will deliver outstanding benefits for Liverpool, the north-west and the whole of the UK trading economy.
Blog by Peel Ports Group Chief Executive Officer, Mark Whitworth.
For more information on the Northern Powerhouse click HERE.
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