With the majority of the party fortified by an early lunch at The Slug and Lettuce, 28 World Traders and Guests set out to see World Trade in action at DP World London Gateway Port This is a new deep warter port on the north bank of the Thames at Thurrock, Essex, designed to handle the biggest container ships in the world. It will in due course also have one of Europe's largest logistics parks, providing access by road and railways to London and the rest of the UK.
The opening presentation by Cameron Thorpe, CEO of the Port, set the scene, explaining that the Port was situated on one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, illustrating the point with an interesting graphic which showed global shipping traffic over the course of a year. ( His presentation can be viewed here. You may also wish to watch the video here.) Overcapacity within the shipping industry is driving the mergers of major players and also leading to demand for greater efficiency. The Port is less vulnerable to bad weather and less affected by tides than its competitors so is therefore able to compete in this increasingly competetive area.
We were then driven round the dockside to watch unloading taking place. The Port has been designed to handle the largest vessels in the world. The high level of automation means that passage through the Port is very rapid. Each individual container is tracked at all times.
The visit had been arranged for the Company by the Port Health Authority which is run by the City of London. We were taken to see the modern purpose built facilities where food brought in to the UK is examined to see that it is fit for human consumption. Steve Higgon, a City of London Port Health Office was an excellent host for the afternoon. Overall, the visit left us all with a clearer view of the practical challenges presented by increasing volumes of world trade.