DP World is currently working on adding a fourth berth at the London Gateway hub. if trade volumes continue to rise - and they sure did in the first-half of this year - there could be more berths. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The Dubai Government owned DP World could add more berths at its London Gateway hub if trade volumes continue to rise, according to a top UK official.

Last month, DP World announced an investment of 300 million pounds on a fourth berth at London Gateway. The operator said the investment would increase supply chain “resilience and create more capacity for the vessels”.

“They hope to finish the fourth berth by the summer of next year, and they have the chance to build a fifth and sixth berths - but let's just take it one step at a time,” said William Russell, Lord Mayor for the City of London. “If we feel that the economies of scale and the flow of trade continues to grow through London Gateway, we're hoping there'll be more berths to come.”

In the first six months of 2021, London Gateway saw a record throughput of 888,000 TEU (20-foot equivalent unit), a more than 23 per cent increase on the previous best performance for the first-half of a year. The new fourth berth will raise capacity by a third.

“I was surprised to hear that trade volumes have increased since we came out of Europe not decreased – that’s good news as well,” said Russell.

Stock - London Lord Mayor William Russell
William Russell, Lord Mayor of the City of London: "If we feel that the economies of scale and the flow of trade continues to grow through London Gateway, we're hoping there'll be more berths to come." Image Credit: Supplied

UAE-UK alliance

The UK has been looking to sign bilateral trade deals with countries since it left the EU fomally at the end of last year. The UK’s Office for Investment and UAE’s sovereign wealth fund Mubadala recently signed an agreement to expand the UAE-UK Sovereign Investment Partnership (UAE-UK SIP), a framework which was announced in March last. Over the next five years, the UAE-UK SIP will drive a significant increase in these investments.

As part of the agreement, Mubadala will oversee a 10 billion pound investment flow into the UK in three priority sectors - technology, infrastructure, and energy transition - as well as build further in life sciences.

“UAE has already invested a huge amount in the UK - technology, life sciences, fintech are all areas that will be looked at,” said Russell. “We think there are a lot of opportunities, but the other areas that will be looked at will be around renewables and sustainable infrastructure.

“Some of our fintech companies will continue to set up here in the UAE and use it as a hub to expand into the region. Fintechs moved on a lot after COVID-19 because digitization has just accelerated everything.”

Plans for the UK

Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Chairman and CEO of DP World, said during a media roundtable that many manufacturers will relocate to UK as the Far East remains locked down. “The UK is a very strong economy; it is a financial center that is one of the biggest in the world - that's why we invested heavily in the London Gateway,” said Sulayem.

UAE-UK route is back

With UK removing restrictions on travel from UAE, the air route between the two countries is once again thriving. “As demand comes back, the capacity will increase,” said Russell. “You're going to get many UK tourists desperate to travel and now you've got the Expo - I think you'll see numbers picking up dramatically.”