(Repeats Dec 6 story to add picture, no change to text)
By Jonathan Saul
LONDON Dec 6 Liverpool's new container terminal
expects to ramp up transatlantic shipping as British companies
look to deepen business ties despite concerns that the U.S.
election of Donald Trump could hinder free trade, the port
operator's chief said.
Private group Peel Ports has invested 400 million pounds
($510 million) in transforming Liverpool's existing facility
into a deep-water container terminal that can receive bigger
ships. The new development opened last month.
Mark Whitworth, chief executive of Peel Ports, said
Liverpool, on England's northwest coast, already had 45 percent
of the UK's transatlantic trade and "there is no reason why our
aspiration should not exceed 60 percent".
A number of companies have made investments in the region,
including spirits giant Diageo and car maker Jaguar Land
Rover - both of which were targeting bigger transatlantic trade,
Britain's decision to leave the European Union is also
driving efforts to bolster trade outside the bloc.
At the same time, there have been worries about Trump's
presidential campaign pledges on redrawing trade deals to win
back U.S. jobs. Economists have warned such moves could spark a
trade war and roll back decades of liberalisation, which has
buoyed international shipping.
"I genuinely believe that Brexit in conjunction with the
U.S. presidency will force greater trade between us and the
U.S.," Whitworth said, dismissing trade concerns over the
election of Trump.
"Liverpool particularly is extremely well placed to
capitalise," he told Reuters.
Whitworth said Liverpool port was also looking at closer
ties with the Panama Canal and had signed a memorandum of
understanding in recent weeks aiming to bolster trade with South
The expanded canal opened in June, fitted with new locks
that allow ships three times bigger than previously to pass
The container sector continues to struggle with weak
earnings due to softer consumer demand and oversupply, which has
triggered a wave of mergers and acquisitions. The world's top
container group, Maersk Line, said last week it
would buy smaller rival Hamburg Sud.
Whitworth said Peel Ports expected more consolidation next
year, which would enable lines to become more innovative on
trade routes including via the Panama Canal.
Peel Ports, Britain's second-biggest operator in terms of
cargo handled, competes with bigger private rival Associated
British Ports (ABP).
When contacted, ABP said Liverpool, like its own ports in
the northeast Humber region, was "an important gateway" for
"Investment in new port infrastructure and facilities is
vital to ensure businesses up and down Britain benefit from the
best possible access to international markets," ABP said.
(Editing by Dale Hudson and David Evans)