DTI: UK port strike may lead to shipping delays

Container vans pile up at the North Harbor in Manila in file photo.

Trade Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual said the ongoing strike at Felixstowe Port in Southeastern England would have some “temporary effect” on trade between the United Kingdom (UK) and the Philippines.

“Since the strike had been anticipated, our Post in London informed us that some shipments have been re-routed to minimize the impact of the port strike on PHL-UK trade,” Pascual said in a statement sent to reporters through Viber on Tuesday.

The Philippines’s trade chief said these impacts are considered to be relatively minor and temporary because there are other ports of entry into the UK such as the Southampton Port and London Gateway, which are also main entry points for shipments coming from Asia.

In fact, Pascual said, “Philippine products may also be shipped to the UK via other European ports.”

Further, Pascual said the effect of the strike would be more on delays, causing disruptions in supply chains and will possibly increase operational costs due to the diversion of shipments. He said the main products that pass through the Felixstowe port include food, electronics, garments, and automotive parts.

As the largest container port in the UK, the Felixstowe Port handles more than a third of cargoes entering the UK, including from Asia, said Pascual.

According to a Bloomberg report, “about 2,000 dockers at the Port of Felixstowe began an eight-day walkout on Sunday [August 21], halting the flow of goods through the UK’s largest gateway for containerized imports and exports.”

The same Bloomberg report underscored that the largest port in the UK handles “about a third of Britain’s total container volume and an even bigger share of direct trade with Asia.”

“The strike could disrupt more than $800 million in trade, according to Russell Group, a data and analytics company,” read the Bloomberg report.

Meanwhile, according to a CNBC report, the standstill at UK’s largest container port, which stemmed from the walkout of 1,900 members of the Unite union for eight days were due to failed wage negotiations.

“Unite said members rejected the average 8 percent pay offer from the Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company because the wage offered was lower than the rate of inflation,” read the CNBC report.

The CNBC report unveiled that “CK Hutchison Holding Ltd, which owns Port of Felixstowe said in a statement on the port’s web site it was ‘disappointed’ the walkout had gone ahead and called its offer of salary increases of on average 8 percent ‘fair.’”

On August 21, the day the strike began, Bloomberg reported that export shipments waited 5.2 days on average, “but that figure stood at 9.4 day—an 82 percent surge—as of August 26,” citing FourKites, a supply-chain visibility form.

“By comparison, the wait for export shipments at northern Europe’s biggest ports rose by only 9 percent,” read the Bloomberg report. 

Image credits: Nonie Reyes


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