Trade advisor at the Danish Embassy in the UK, Jes Lauritzen, traces the history of the UK and Denmark’s strong economic ties and shares why ABP’s ports on the Humber are particularly well-suited for future commercial links between the two countries.
The UK and Denmark have a longstanding relationship tracing all the way back at least to the eighth century when the first Danish Vikings came to England. Even though the time of the Vikings might be better known for plundering, it was also a period of settlements, trade and cultural exchanges.It is a period in time with great significance for both sides of the North Sea and a period in which both countries were united under King Cnut the Great. The arrival of the Vikings is only one of many examples of why there is a strong bond between our countries. The history between the UK and Denmark covers many other aspects, such as a royal wedding in 1766 between the English Princess Caroline Matilda and the Danish King Christian 7th of Denmark,and the liberation in 1945 by the British forces led by Field Marshall Montgomery, ending World War II for Denmark. History shows there are very close ties between our two countries and this is what continues to keep us close.
Through it all, the relationship between our two countries has also revolved around the exchange of goods and services. In 2017, the UK was Denmark’s fourth largest export market for services and goods.
The Humber ports are especially interesting to Denmark as it is possible to reach around 60% of the UK’s largest exporters and importers within a three hour drive. Furthermore, there is excellent access to skilled labour and lower operational costs in the Humber area.
Danish exports to the UK account for around 8% of total exports, which has a value of approximately £10bn. Likewise, Danish imports from the UK are vital, as the UK ranks third when it comes to where Denmark get its imports. A study from Aalborg University in Denmark suggests that Denmark is getting a quarter of all its fish from British waters. Denmark’s decision to join the EU was directly linked to the UK’s decision to join the EU. Therefore, the UK decision to leave the European Union will undoubtedly have consequences for both Denmark’s exports and imports from the UK. In the coming post-Brexit reality, whatever the outcome of any deal, we will need to explore new ways of connecting with each other.
The Danish Embassy and the Port of Hanstholm went to visit the ABP’s operations in the Humber in December last year. We saw the volume of goods coming in through the Humberside area and how effectively and well organised the port operations were set up. During the visit, it became clear that new links between the UK and Denmark could be extended to the benefit of both countries. The Humber ports are especially interesting to Denmark as it is possible to reach around 60% of the UK’s largest exporters and importers within a three hour drive. Furthermore, there is excellent access to skilled labour and lower operational costs in the Humber area. In addition, it is almost certain that Brexit will affect other links between mainland Europe and the UK, and creating new sea links out of the Humberside would be one way of helping us all overcome some of the potential Brexit consequences. For environmental reasons, it would be of great benefit to move more goods from roads and planes to the sea as this would be a much more CO2 friendly mode of transportation.
The Port of Hanstholm is in the process of expanding its operations and capacity, a project that is expected to be completed by 2020. This expansion will ensure that the Port of Hanstholm, building on the existing activities, will be ready for handling more goods on bigger ships, with more space available for storage and containers.
The Port of Hanstholm is one of Denmark’s leading fishing ports and hosts Denmark’s largest fish auction, attracting some of the best prices in Europe. Geographically speaking, the Port of Hanstholm is one of the Danish ports which are closest to the UK. We would therefore encourage investigating how new sea links between the ABP’s ports on the Humber and the Port of Hanstholm could be established.
Because of Brexit, we may face some slightly rougher seas in the coming years, but Denmark and the UK will always be close partners, and a collaboration between ABP Humber and the Port of Hanstholm could be yet another step to strengthen historic trade partnerships across the North Sea.