Great Yarmouth Borough Council has staged a high-level business networking event with the ambition of developing maritime trade links with the Continent via the Port of Great Yarmouth and the Belgian Port of Ostend.
The initial meeting at the Town Hall brought together the respective port operators, along with strategic partners and operators in the maritime and logistics sectors on both sides, to actively develop trade and partnership opportunities to provide UK/Europe end-to-end logistics solutions.
The goal of this “meet the partner” session was to help establish end-to-end freight solutions based around the two ports, involving maritime and haulage logistics operators, shipping agents and the associated supply chain in both East Anglia and Belgium.
Among those greeting the high-level Continental business delegation were representatives of Great Yarmouth Borough Council, the British Chambers of Commerce and Peel Ports Great Yarmouth. The Belgian flag was flying at the Town Hall to welcome the guests.
Cllr Carl Smith, the council leader, said: “The council has been working with Peel Ports Great Yarmouth and other partners to develop and maximise opportunities for economic growth and investment from the Outer Harbour, for the benefit of both the borough and wider region.
“Great Yarmouth already has a rich history of maritime trade and is well placed to re-establish regular trade with the Continent, especially with the Third River Crossing set to connect the port directly with the trunk road network by 2023.
“Belgium is a key trading partner with the UK. The initial discussions we facilitated proved there is a strong desire on both sides to bolster this via a Great Yarmouth-Ostend link. We have brought together the key people and it is now in the hands of the private sector to capitalise on this significant opportunity.”
Richard Goffin, Port Director for Great Yarmouth, said: “Great Yarmouth Port is the closest deep-water port to the Southern North Sea. It has invested £12m to upgrade the Outer Harbour, strengthening the quay and storage areas, installing a heavy lift pad, crane pad and RoRo Ramp. We have plans to further develop the Port by investing to create 350m of extra berthing space and approximately 100,000m2 of additional storage land.
“Other investments include a new Liebherr LHM280 crane, with a lifting capacity of 84 tonnes, to enable us to handle significantly larger volumes of bulk and unitised cargo, enabling us to harness potential growth opportunities, not just in renewables, but in the general bulks, RoRo and agri-bulks sectors. We look forward to developing future partnerships with Ostend to explore opportunities across maritime trade operations.”
Wim Stubbe, business development manager for the Port of Oostende said: “We are going through challenging times and challenging times needs new solutions. As we have been cooperating as neighbours during centuries, it is clear that cooperation is the baseline for our future as well, both in logistics as in the offshore renewable sector.
“The South East of the UK has become a major logistic bottleneck. And an oil-based economy is not any more of these days. The investment in building bridges between the business communities of Great Yarmouth and Oostende is an important step in opening the doors for defining new maritime opportunities.”
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