The Port of Liverpool is talking to a number of lines with the hope of creating a direct shipping service to the west coast of India, potentially opening up a new UK trade route to South Asia.
Management at the Merseyside port believe the new routes would increase efficiency and reduce costs for users, as 60 per cent of current trade from India to the UK is delivered to within a 150-mile radius of the north-west city.
The latest talks were held when senior management from the Port of Liverpool visited Mumbai for a trade conference and have since received commitment in excess of 45,000 TEUs per year to the prospective service.
Ken Hayes, UK business development manager for Peel Ports, said: “All cargo originating from India gets shipped to various ports such as Felixstowe, Southampton and Dublin and is then redirected to its final destination, with an estimated 60 per cent of this trade finding its way to within 150 miles of Liverpool.
“If the cargo is brought directly to Liverpool it will bring about a saving of around £300 per container by way of handling, advantage of higher port efficiency and onward transport cost. And then there are clear environmental benefits.
“We have received frequent demands from the trade for launching this direct sailing to Liverpool from India and have decided to enter detailed discussions which are now at an advanced stage with a number of lines.”
The latest figures from the UK’s DTI Economics & Statistics Directorate show that the total value of bilateral trade between the UK and India during 2006 was £8.7bn.
Ravi Gandhi, the Port of Liverpool’s representative in India, said: “Having been established in the shipping industry for decades, we share the view with many of our colleagues from within the Indian freight-forwarding community that a direct service between India and Liverpool would bring a large number of tangible benefits to respective ports and countries.
“The reduction in costs would not only provide a one-time saving but would also lead to more repeat business which would represent a real win-win situation for all.”
Stephen Carr, head of business development for Port Of Liverpool, added: “UK importers are keen to exploit the economic and environmental benefits of reduced UK road miles.
“Importers, exporters and freight forwarders have already committed in excess of 45,000 TEUs per annum to a Liverpool service, reducing risk for the first shipping line. Shipping lines recognise the flexibility and responsiveness of the Port of Liverpool as a good place to do business.”