Now, more than ever, businesses need the confidence that their supply chains can cope with whatever the economy and the world throws at them.

Over the last few months, ports have played a pivotal role in ensuring the UK remains fed, fuelled and supplied with key medical products.

As the primary gateways for goods entering and leaving the country, ports understand first-hand the immense challenges ahead.

Forward-thinking operators also understand the importance of building supply chain strategies that are agile and resilient enough to withstand whatever comes their way, including adopting more sustainable practices to reduce CO2 emissions and costs.

While the full economic effect of the pandemic and the impact of our future relationship with the EU is yet to be realised, the one thing we know for certain is that it will irrevocably change the UK’s role in the global economy and global trade.

Resilience will need to be at the forefront of everyone’s minds over the next 12 months, as new border arrangements governing the flow of goods between the UK and the EU and indeed between Britain and Ireland come into place. Business needs to be prepared for this well in advance of January 1st.

We’ve already seen a stark warning of the potential impact of Brexit and major delays at ports which could see up to 7,000 trucks queuing at Dover for up to two days – delays which could have serious financial and environmental implications.

Mark Whitworth, chief executive officer, Peel Ports

Every minute that goods are delayed waiting for border checks incurs greater costs to businesses and stops the flow of vital goods such as food and medicines.

It is clear that we can no longer be reliant on a single pinch point entry into the UK and that a ‘Team UK’ approach is required if we are to weather the changes that Brexit will bring over the next few months.

The Dover Straits now accounts for roughly three-quarters of all RORO trade with the continent – whereas prior to the signing of the Maastricht treaty it was less than half – despite the fact much of the UK’s warehousing is situated in the Midlands and North of Britain.

We have long argued the benefits of the Port of Liverpool and its proximity to market. Using ports close to the origin or destination of the cargo delivers significant benefit. Clearly fewer road or rail miles means less fuel is consumed on the land leg of the journey. This does not just reduce cost, but also removes carbon from the supply chain.

A port’s proximity to markets has other indirect benefits, not only acting as a strategic gateway, but as a facilitator of supply chain activity.

Whether it’s full processing, product finalisation or implementation of storage solutions, being close-by means a port can fulfil a wide range of logistics activities, as well as minimise the risk of disruption as a result of transport congestion.

Covid-19 and the Brexit transition have each brought the essential work of ports into sharper focus and provide a springboard for businesses to reassess and redefine their supply chain strategies, building back greener and driving forward greater efficiencies in the transportation of goods.

All businesses will be impacted by the changes Brexit will bring, but the preparations undertaken by UK’s ports industry will relieve pressure on traditional routes, increase capacity and introduce new trade routes.

You can find out more about global supply chain resilience via our whitepaper.

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