EUROPE: UK's Q2 port freight tonnage down by 18%

The volume of UK port freight tonnage for the second quarter (Q2) was down by 18% on last year at 96.1 million tonnes, according to statistics released today (9 September) by the Department for Transport (DfT). Furthermore, the total volume of 'unitised traffic' - goods transported by containers, trucks and trailers - decreased by 44% to 3.2 million units. The British Ports Association (BPA) said that the Q2 statistics have 'shone a light on the impact on trade at the height of the [COVID-19] pandemic' and 'confirmed what the industry already knew; that the pandemic brought severe disruption to trade flows and demand in the economy'.

Phoebe Warneford-Thomson, Policy and Economic Analyst, at the British Ports Association said: 'The dramatic fall in unitised traffic during this period is not surprising, as containers and freight carried by trucks are a good barometer of the performance of the overall economy. This fall represents a decline in finished goods bound for the high street as well as raw materials for manufacturing sites; both of which largely suspended operations during the lockdown. 'However, the 3.2 million unitised units throughout the three months highlight that ports have continued to supply the country with essentials for the pandemic, including supermarket goods, medical products and PPE.

Furthermore, certain areas, such as timber goods for DIY in homes and gardens performed well, and items such as toilet rolls, where there was an abundance of demand for both finished products and raw paper pulp supplies.' Warneford-Thomson added that in the months since June - for which official statistics are not yet available - UK ports appear to have 'maintained resilience' and 'while trade flows may not be at 100% levels, we are seeing some return to normality'. However, Warneford-Thomson warned that 'there is no crystal ball to inform us what is coming next for the ports sector and UK trade', and the ongoing Brexit situation is still a factor.

'During this period of recession and the ongoing pandemic, combined with news of pinch-point trade talks and the looming possibility of no-deal, international trade flows into Britain may be set [for] further disruption,' cautioned Warneford-Thomson.

You may also like...