A multi-million dollar contract was signed at a formal ceremony in Shanghai yesterday between major UK port operator, Peel Ports, and engineering firm, ZPMC, helping to boost future bilateral trade opportunities between China and the UK.
Peel Ports Group is investing over $512 million (£300 million) to redevelop and expand the existing Port of Liverpool in the North-west of England, creating Liverpool2, a new deep-water port which will be able to accommodate 95% of the world’s container fleet, including the post-Panamax vessels that will travel through the expanded Panama Canal when it opens in 2015.
ZPMC is supplying eight ship-to-shore (STS) megamax quay cranes and 22 cantilever rail-mounted gantry cranes (CRMGs) as part of the Liverpool2 project. As well as signing the $170 million (£100 million) contract, Peel Ports’ Chief Executive Mark Whitworth toured ZPMC’s engineering facilities at Changxing and Nantong as part of a two-day visit to China.
Mr Whitworth said: “China has a long history of trading with the UK and Liverpool2, located at the heart of Great Britain, will offer a more direct trading route for cargo coming from China to reach over 65% of the UK population who live within 240 km of Liverpool. As one of the most operationally efficient terminals in Northern Europe, Liverpool2 will be the quickest and most cost-effective route to market, not just for goods destined for England but also for Scotland, Ireland, North Wales, opening up a new market estimated at four million TEU every year and increasing potential trade between our countries.
“It is a great pleasure to be here in Shanghai to sign this important agreement with ZPMC because it is a significant part of the transformation of the Port of Liverpool and the changes that we are making there. ZPMC are doing much more than supplying cranes. They are helping us to deliver a project aimed at changing logistics flows in the UK, where the Port of Liverpool is currently the third largest container port and strategically important to trade with China.”
On a recent visit to the Port of Liverpool, UK Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed the Liverpool2 investment as a means of offering businesses a way to move their goods to market faster and more efficiently to the north of the UK, bypassing southern ports such as Southampton and Tilbury. He acknowledged that “So many of the big container ships come into southern ports…yet so much of that freight is destined for the north of the country”.
The ZPMC equipment will enable the port to handle two 380m vessels simultaneously with an anticipated 1,500 moves in each tidal window. With semi-automated remote-controlled operation, the cranes will reduce the time taken to transfer containers from port to road or rail, which means 65% of haulage turned round in 30 minutes and 95% of haulage turned in 60 minutes. They will also have the ability to operate at speeds in excess of 30mph and wind speeds of up to 55mph (88kmph).
The fleet of STS and CRMG cranes will be supported by state-of-the-art quayside facilities, best in class port and logistics solutions, including a fully integrated Navis N4 terminal operating system, autogates and ABB equipment controls.
Mark Whitworth added: “Liverpool2 has a considerable advantage over its competitors as it has 10 motorways located within 16 km and is uniquely connected to the Manchester Ship Canal which stretches 44 km from the Port of Liverpool to Manchester, connecting deep sea cargo with the inland container hubs.
“Logistically cargo can be moved much more fuel and carbon efficiently. Very few other terminal operators in the UK have such connectivity, and these combined services offer some of the best value door-to-door shipping costs that cargo owners will find.”
Liverpool2 will be the centrepiece in a much larger project called Atlantic Gateway, which is a project to develop the area between the cities of Manchester and Liverpool. The development will be backed by $85 billion (£50 billion) of investment over 50 years, making it one of the most expensive and expansive development projects in UK history. Its design was also significantly inspired by the Shanghai waterfront.
In 2013, China was Great Britain’s 7th largest market for exports. UK exports to China reached $21.1 billion (£12.4 billion) and have been growing by around 17% year-on-year. Exports from China include furniture and furnishings, iron and steel, clothing, games and sports equipment.
The UK is China’s 3rd largest source of imports. UK goods imports from China reached $56.8 billion (£33.3 billion) in 2013, growing 6% year-on-year and 9% since 2010.
Liverpool is a twin city with Shanghai and is home to the oldest Chinese community in Europe dating back to 1834 when the first vessel, direct from China, arrived in Liverpool’s docks to trade such goods as silk, cotton and tea. Today there are around 40,000 Chinese people living in the North West.