November 11, 2020 @ 14:35 by Richard Dawson
The Port of Sunderland is on course to record a three-year high in export volumes despite the challenging landscape in international trade.
Owned and operated by Sunderland City Council, the port has already seen export levels for the first three quarters of 2020 exceed last year’s annual total and is on track for its best year since 2017.
The port shipped over 140,000 tonnes of cargo during the first nine months of the year, playing a key role in sustaining several of the country’s key sectors and supply chains during the coronavirus crisis, including tissue manufacture, offshore survey, construction and agriculture.
Matthew Hunt, director of Port of Sunderland, said: “While the last seven months have thrown up a whole host of unforeseen challenges, we couldn’t be any prouder of how our staff have risen to the challenge of keeping Britain trading throughout this crisis.
“As an island nation, UK ports handle 95 per cent of all of our import and export cargo by volume – about 500 million tonnes of freight per year – therefore keeping ships moving and goods flowing has been critical to our survival and as the pandemic unfortunately continues, we are more than ready to rise to the challenge of maintaining this momentum.”
The Wearside port was granted Enterprise Zone (EZ) status in 2017 and has recently seen investment of £8.2 million.
The funds will go towards multi-million-pound road improvements and the development of its East Shore nine-acre site.
Both are expected to make the port more attractive for inward investors and help improve the flow of goods.
Matthew added: “Over the past few months we’ve seen work complete on our road improvement programme, enabling works come to a close on the East Shore EZ and reported rising export volumes, all while adjusting to a global pandemic.
“I can’t recall a period of such challenge but also opportunity for the port, and we’ve absolutely risen to both.”