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FBJ boasts the most informative and authoritative source of information with unrivalled in-depth knowledge of the rapidly changing freight business environment.

By Chris Lewis

The problems at the port of Felixstowe, fi rst reported in mid-September, are a good illustration of the way one thing can lead to another. Shippers and forwarders were complaining that the port had hit capacity and was no longer issuing slots in its vehicle booking system. This is turn meant that shipping lines are refusing to take empty containers back to the port, inland warehouses were running out of and space and containers were instead having to be sent to other ports. The immediate cause was the need to deep clean equipment aſt er every shiſt due to the Covid virus and consequent lengthened turnaround times. However, you don’t need a very long memory to recall its last crisis, in 2018, when the port almost ground to a half aſt er a disastrous migration to a new in-house terminal operating system. In fact, BIFA says that its members have suff ered from two years of poor service from the port, suggesting that its issues are more deep-seated than the Covid crisis. It is perhaps signifi cant that former DP World UK chief executive Chris Lewis has been recalled from retirement to join Felixstowe’s owners, Hutchison. Hutchison also announced that former Transport Secretary and current Conservative MP for Epsom and Ewell Chris Grayling had been appointed as a part-time advisor, though whether Felixstowe will gain much practical help in return for his £100,000 annual fee remains to be seen.


LORRAINE CHRISTIAN Tel: +44 (0)151 427 6800 lorraine.christian@f

ANDREA CAZZOLATO Tel: +44 (0)151 427 6800 andrea@f

In amongst the doom and gloom of the past few months, came a small piece of under- reported good news – that the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have normalised relations with Israel, ending a decades-long boycott. DP World lost no time in signing a memorandum of understanding with shipping and port interests in Israel, in a ceremony that would have been unthinkable even a few years ago. Freight forwarder DSV said on 24 September that it had carried out the fi rst direct shipment between the UAE and Israel, following the signing of the treaty. The treaty could be very good news for shippers in Israel as it gives them direct access to the sea and air gateways of Dubai and should help them compete more eff ectively in world markets. Whether greater political understanding and rapprochement and a more stable Middle East follow the increased trade links remains to be seen – but it is a start in the right direction.



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DHL’s corporate bright yellow and logo are a familiar enough sight on trucks and planes but a water bus in the same colour scheme is occasion for a double-take. Launching what is believed to be London’s fi rst riverboat parcel delivery service, the Express arm of the multinational freight giant says it is part of its commitment to using blended transport modes, with electric trucks and bikes feeding the vessel at either end. It isn’t the parcels industry’s fi rst use of river transport – there have been similar ventures in Amsterdam and, of necessity, Venice where all transport has to be by water. There are even advocates for the Manchester Ship Canal and the River Irwell to be similarly used for urban freight deliveries. Whether this or future similar schemes go beyond the token gesture stage remains to be seen. But many of our largest cities do have wide rivers running right through them – that is why they were founded there, usually several centuries if not millennia ago – and most are now sadly empty, except for the occasional tourist boat.

Aſt er months if not years of saying very little on the subject, the Government fi nally came clean in September by admitting what the freight industry has been insisting all along – that Brexit could lead to a serious backlog of trucks trying to get to and from the Channel ports. No doubt, it will be a short-term phenomenon, or at any rate the industry will, as it always does, fi nd ways of dealing with the issue. With just a few weeks to go until the end of the Brexit transition period, a sense of reality is perhaps beginning to sink in. There has been a fl urry of government announcements about contingency plans, emergency truck parks and even funding for extra infrastructure. But shippers themselves need to wake up and smell the coff ee. As British Ports Association chief Richard Ballantyne puts it, if they have not completed the correct customs requirements, they will be unable to transport their goods through any port.

As the defi nitive publication within the sea, air, road and rail freight sectors, each issue includes regular news and analysis, in-depth coverage discovering the business decisions behind the news stories, shipper and exporter reports, opinion, geographical features, political and environmental issues.

If you have any stories or letters which should be of interest or any feedback on FBJ, please contact our editor Chris Lewis - +44 (0)208 6450666 chris.lewis@f

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Our next issue will include features on: Railfreight,

Scandinavia, France and Cool Chain.

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Mark Whitworth, chief executive, Peel Ports

Now, more than ever, businesses need the confi dence 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 fi rst-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 eff ect 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 fl ow of goods between the UK and the EU and indeed between Britain and Ireland come into place. Business need to be prepared for this well in advance of 1 January. 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 fi nancial and environmental implications. Every minute that goods are delayed waiting

for border checks incurs greater costs to businesses and stops the fl ow 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 is 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 ro ro 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 benefi ts of the Port of

Liverpool and its proximity to market. Using ports close to the origin or destination of the cargo delivers signifi cant benefi t. 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. 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 redefi ne their supply chain strategies, building back greener and driving forward greater effi ciencies 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 fi nd out more about global supply chain

resilience via our white paper: https://preview.tinyurl. com/y4bcb2hf

Issue 7 2020 - Freight Business Journal From the Editor


FBJ is the only UK and one of the few pan-European Multimodal newspapers. The comments we have received prove there is still room for a hard copy publication within the freighting industry. You don’t have to look at a screen all day!

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