Officials in the Humber and the Danish port of Esbjerg have pledged to work closer together to banish the unwanted opportunity of Brexit widening the North Sea divide.
In a bid to ensure vital trade links – stretching from offshore wind to pigs – remain solid, an agreement has been signed by Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce and port officials in Denmark.
It will look to embrace the likes of Orsted, Siemens Gamesa, DFDS and Associated British Ports as regular meetings are formalised.
It comes as Esbjerg has already launched new border inspection posts, with the UK versions rolling out in the summer, having been granted a six month grace period.
Dennis Jul Pedersen, chief executive of Port of Esbjerg, said he had already been briefed by the British Embassy, and said there were some definite opportunities from the work.
“There is a way forward, we have similar collaboration with Eemshaven in Holland,” he said.
“When it comes to the green transition, if we collaborate and find synergies, it will come faster and at a lower cost.
“We will have our first experiences from Brexit for the first meeting, we have border inspection posts ready now, and there may be some experiences and learnings here we should share immediately.”
His chief commercial officer, Jesper Bank, and the Chamber’s international director Pauline Wade have worked together as part of Wind Europe, the continental trade association.
It led to a webinar on trade days after the new era began – leading to the Cross North Sea Round Table Dialogue Forum being drawn up.
Mr Bank said: “We have been having a dialogue for sometime; there is a lot of trade between regions and it seems logical we do something, now we are getting some mental and physical barrier – that we reach over with good intention, and it is more efficient if we do it in a formal way.
“We have issues we will bring to the table to talk about, but this is about talk and action. Let’s keep the dialogue in a straight line over the North Sea, it is the best way to treat it. There are 200 companies in the port area, having some kind of daily business with the UK, so it is extremely relevant.”
Esbjerg welcomed nearly 6,000 vessels in 2019, handling 4.3 million tonnes of cargo. It covers 4.5 million sq m and can accommodate vessels up to 245m in length.
For offshore wind it is shipping 1,200 complete turbines annually on dedicated jack-up vessels with the 10-ramp ro-ro terminal feeding Norway, Sweden, Holland, Belgium, Spain and the wider Mediterranean as well as Immingham.
Phil Jones, president, said: “What we see here is intention and desire. We want to put regional projects together and build these trading links on the backbone of what we have created. This gives us a way of formalising the relationship and committing to maintaining and building what we want to happen.
“There are a lot of businesses on both sides of the North Sea that will benefit from this relationship going forward, and I’m really pleased to be part of it.”