ABP Chief Executive James Cooper believes that the UK government should put ports at the forefront of its Industrial Strategy.
Mr Cooper spoke at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office during a Maritime Nation event where he highlighted the important role UK ports can play in growing exports.
He explained: “The UK is a maritime nation. We are an island surrounded by sea, one might think that those drafting our new industrial strategy might usefully start by acknowledging that fact.”
The event was held to support the government’s ‘Exporting is GREAT’ campaign and was aimed at showcasing the strength of the UK’s maritime offer.
It also outlined the important role the industry has to play in ensuring a wealthy British future after Brexit.
Mr Cooper added: “There is a powerful case for ports and maritime to be at the forefront of a strategy to boost exports, front and centre of a wider industrial strategy that cuts across Government.
“The UK must raise its sights and adopt a global approach in our drive to boost trade and boost exports. Indeed, a positive global outlook, being ambitious and being enterprising are qualities which are embodied by our maritime industries.”
More than 300 MPs, maritime and UK manufacturing industry leaders attended the event at which shipping minister John Hayes and international trade minister Mark Garnier also spoke.
Maritime Nation is aiming to raise awareness of the key contribution of the marine and maritime sector and how it provides crucial access to European and global markets for UK manufacturers.
Mr Garnier concluded: “The UK’s maritime industry generates an impressive £22bn for our economy. Our ports provide British businesses with a gateway to the global market, with 95% of Britain’s trade in goods currently moved by sea.
“Boosting exports would be impossible without the support of our thriving maritime sector and we will continue to work together with Britain’s ports to help secure our place as a global trading nation.”