LONDON: United Kingdom ports saw a slight decline in overall freight tonnage in 2016, but handled a record 10.2 million TEUs of container traffic the same year, according to the Department of Transport’s (DtF) finalized “UK Port Freight Statistics: 2016.” Overall total freight tonnage handled by U.K. ports, mostly bulk freight, declined by 3 percent in 2016 due to reduced demand in coal imports, the report stated. Container traffic increased 4 percent, with the Port of London seeing the largest increase in container throughput, rising 26 percent or 1.5 million TEUs in 2016. Port Felixstowe was the U.K.’s most successful port, handling 4 million TEUs last year, albeit down 0.7 percent from 2015 levels, the report noted. Southampton saw a 4 percent increase in container traffic to 2 million TEUs, Liverpool a 7 percent increase to 700,000 TEUs, and Tees & Hartlepool a 6 percent increase to 400,000 TEUs.
According to the report, roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro) cargo at U.K. ports increased 1 percent to 18.2 million units for the year, as part of the U.K.’s fourth consecutive year of increased unitized cargo. “The DfT’s figures highlight the significance of unitised traffic to the UK economy and particularly ro-ro HGV vehicle trade with Europe,” said British Ports Association chief executive Richard Ballantyne. “This underlines the importance of agreeing a post Brexit deal with the EU that preserves as many of the advantages of Customs Union membership and avoids the need for border interventions, congestion and delays at ro-ro ports, whilst also enabling UK ports to take advantage of new global trade deals.” The European Union (EU) and the U.K. completed the third round of Article 50 negotiations last week, with no major headway gained on international agreements. The U.K. has, however, proposed a border-less customs procedure after it officially leaves the EU in 2019. The proposal, if enacted, would eliminate border checks on imports and exports with the EU.