Worldwide there are approximately 3,000 merchant ports and the work of the Harbour Master can vary widely from country to country and from port to port even within the same country.
On 30 January, the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade released a statement confirming that the People’s Republic of China was offering force majeure certificates to local companies unable to fulfil their international contractual obligations due to the coronavirus outbreak. Relevant directives and certificates do not, for the time being, apply to Hong Kong law contracts where the counterparty is a non-Chinese entity.
On 30 January it was reported that the Port of London Authority (PLA), which is responsible for the safety of navigation on the tidal Thames, had signed a new deal with Reygar Ltd for the expansion of BareFLEET, Reygar’s advanced remote monitoring system, across the PLA’s varied fleet of multi-cat, crewboat, and survey vessels.
A new IMO video which showcases IMO’s new long-term strategy on mobilising resources for technical cooperation activities was launched on 27 January.
This video which aligns with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs*), highlights the value and benefits of working with IMO and encourages active communication with potential donors and recipients.
The Port of Cork reported on 27 January that the combined total traffic through both the Port of Cork and Bantry Bay Port Company took a dip of 5% from 10.6 million tonnes, to just over 10 million tonnes in 2019. The cause for this minor decline is attributed to less volumes of dry bulk cargo through the port. Overall total imports decreased by 7% while exports decreased by 3%.
Cork Container Terminal
One of Maritime Minister Nusrat Ghani’s last duties before leaving office on 13 February was to make a written statement on Light Dues, the means of financing the marine aids to navigation services of the United Kingdom.
In the document she said: ‘A strong and growing maritime industry is vital to the economy of the United Kingdom and it is critical that we treasure and protect this vital artery if we are to remain a world-leading maritime centre.
‘The work of the General Lighthouse Authorities2, which provide and maintain marine aids to navigation and respond to new wrecks and navigation dangers in some of the busiest waters in the world, is crucial to underpinning that vision whilst maintaining our vigorous safety record and continuously improving standards of safety.
‘Reductions in the three General Lighthouse Authorities’ running costs have enabled the UK to reduce light dues on four occasions since 2014. For 2020 to 2021 I intend to freeze light dues rates at 37½ pence per net registered tonne. This will mean that light dues will have fallen by 30% in real terms since 2010.
‘Light dues rates will continue to be reviewed on an annual basis to ensure that the General Lighthouse Authorities are challenged to provide an effective and efficient service which offers value for money to light dues payers.’
New hubs of business and enterprise will be opened across the UK creating thousands of jobs, regenerating communities and turbocharging Britain’s post-Brexit growth, the Government announced on 10 February.
Up to ten new innovative Freeports will be opened across the UK as the Government seeks to level up the country and seize on the opportunities leaving the EU has presented. This was the style of a news item delivered on behalf of HM Treasury.
A consultation has been launched setting out the Government’s vision for Freeports, with the aim of announcing the location of the new zones at the end of this year so they can be open for business in 2021.
It is understood that once the ten-week consultation is completed, the Government will invite sea, air and rail ports to bid for Freeport status on a competitive basis.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Rishi Sunak, said: ‘Freeports will unleash the potential in our proud historic ports, boosting and regenerating communities across the UK as we level up. They will attract new businesses, spreading jobs, investment and opportunity to towns and cities up and down the country.
‘This is all part of our mission as an open, outward-looking country, championing global free trade with vibrant Freeports that work for all of the UK.’