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2009 Port of London Trade lowest since 1992

Cargo moving on the ThamesThe Port of London Authority (PLA) says that trade through the Port of London in 2009 fell by 14% to 45 million tonnes, the lowest level since 1992.

Trade through the Port declined rapidly as economic activity fell off in the latter months of 2008; figures released at this week's annual Port of London reception showed that during 2009 trade stabilised at a lower level.  By the end of the year, terminals in the port had handled 45.4 million tonnes of cargo, down 14% (7.52 million tonnes) compared to 2008. 

In tonnage terms, the most significant decline was in unitised trades (principally containers and lorry trailers) which were down by 2.45 million tonnes (-16%).  Crude oil and oil products trades declined by 1.9 million tonnes (-10%), aggregate trades were down by 1.3 million tonnes (-17%).  Smaller volume cargoes which increased included: cereals (7%) and vegetable oils and oil seed (12%).

PLA chief executive, Richard Everitt said:

"The Port is intrinsically linked to economic activity.  It was inevitable that 2009 would be a very tough year and we expect trade in 2010 to be little changed.  To put this in perspective, the last time trade through the Port was at these levels, John Major was Prime Minister. 

"We share concerns about the strength of the economic recovery in the short term, but the fundamental attractions of the port as a destination for trade into the South East remain strong.  That’s what has attracted the £1.5 billion London Gateway container port development to the river.  This and other developments will underpin what we expect to be the haul back to the 50 million tonne plus level of throughput seen for the previous nine years.

"Our focus during 2009 was on developing our operations for the future - trialling a more efficient harbour patrol launch and starting an extensive improvement programme for our Port Control operation.  We are preparing for the upturn and continuing to work to create the conditions for use of the river to flourish."

ContainersFull details of the Port of London’s 2009 trade will be in the PLA’s Annual Review, which will be available on the PLA website from mid April.