As part of our strategic partnership with the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC), the Southampton 2025 UK City of Culture team recently attended the Ports and Shipping Seminar. Southampton will be playing an active role in future CWEIC events as our relationship with CWEIC and the wider Commonwealth countries develops.
Alastair Welch, Regional Director for ABP Port of Southampton represented Southampton on the main speaker panel; showcasing the city’s global positioning in the blue economy.
Hosted by Lord Marland, Chairman of CWEIC, the wider discussion included; Hon Joseph Muscat, Former Prime Minister of Malta; The Hon Vijay Daryanani, Minister for Business, Tourism, Transport and the Port of Gibraltar; Mbappe Penda, Director General for the Cameroon Shippers Council; Shahid Ali, Chief Executive Officer, Maldives Ports Limited and Despina Theodosiou, President of WISTA International.
The group discussed topical issues such as the major impact that Covid-19 has had on global shipping markets, with the slump in demand for goods having a ripple effect on everything from container ships to oil tankers. As the world economy begins to recover from the impact of Covid-19, and it appears as though the industry is past the peak of the impact, Lord Marland asked the panel about positive signs of recovery. Alastair Welch, Regional Director for ABP Port of Southampton commented, “Towards the end of 2020, as the UK economy improved, we've seen containers and automotive increase to 95% of the volume we would normally expect. Refining is subdued because aviation is subdued, but cruise is still at a standstill".
In addition, Shahid Ali, Chief Executive Officer, Maldives Ports Limited said “The Maldives relies a lot on imports; they are crucial for essential items and all our supplies. Since the pandemic hit, we’ve seen a decline of more than 50% in cargo volumes. Our economy shrunk by a huge margin. We are dependent upon tourism, which came to a standstill”.
Panellists stressed the fact that the global pandemic has highlighted the interdependence of countries and their ports. Throughout the event, speakers called for increased cooperation and a move away from siloed working to improve efficiency and sustainability, with a focus of how this can be achieved through collaborative working across the Commonwealth.
Samantha Cohen, Chief Executive, CWEIC, said, “We are thrilled that the Port of Southampton was represented on our panel, alongside global organisations from Malta, Gibraltar and Cameroon. We were also delighted to be joined by the city of Southampton, as part of our new strategic partnership. Southampton has a rich trading heritage which will play a pivotal role within the city’s bid to become UK City of Culture, as well as the wider world economy recovery post covid-19.”