As representatives of five OEMs had taken up the invitation to join the meeting as guests, the latest ECG Maritime & Ports Working Group (M&P WG) hosted by Associated British Ports (ABP) in Southampton attracted an absolute record of more than 50 people. Notably, participants from Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, Ford, JLR, Honda Motor Europe and BMW gathered together with ECG members on 28 November to enjoy the usual informal dinner in one of Southampton’s city restaurants.
The meeting the following morning took place in the City Cruise Terminal, opening with an introductory presentation by the host port. ABP highlighted that it consists of a network of 21 ports with automotive activities also taking place on the Humber, notably in Immingham and Grimsby (which hosted an M&P WG meeting in 2016).
A next topic on the agenda was the AIAG Port Quality Assessment Tool, which ABP had studied and trialled internally, thus the meeting provided a fitting occasion to share their feedback with the group. The trial concluded that with some port-specific adaptations the tool, currently only used in the US port of Baltimore, has the potential to bring different stakeholders within a single port together to share experiences and, potentially, to find solutions to some of the issues that might be raised. Their suggestion was therefore that other ports should aim to trial the tool on a voluntary basis as well, and that ECG could act as co-ordinator to exchange best practices between participating ports.
During earlier discussions with some of the OEMs the idea of a joint project on Port Efficiency was raised, their representatives were given the occasion to express their thoughts and Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi had prepared a presentation of its own with the aim to bring some constructive suggestions on this important issue for the whole finished vehicle logistics sector.
The meeting continued with a guest presentation by Damian Viccars, Brussels Representative of the World Shipping Council who gave an overview of this Washington-based association and the issues they are focusing on. One of the current developments followed closely being ‘Brexit’, it lead to a frank exchange of views at this rather apt location. Given the great uncertainty at the current stage of negotiations it was decided that the M&P WG should regularly include the topic in its future meetings and eventually invite guest speakers to contribute to this exchange of information.
The participants also heard about the activities of the European Commission’s DG TAXUD Trade Contact Group and the related ‘Brexit Informal Industry Group’ (BIIG), both of which ECG is a member of. As a related subject John Miller-Wilson, Director of Supply Chain & Logistics, Sovereign Business Integration Group, shared the latest updates regarding the ‘Authorized Economic Operator’ (AEO) status which is gaining importance for European companies involved in import/export activities.
Towards the end of this highly interactive meeting, the ECG Secretariat added its regular update on the association’s activities in Brussels, including the ECG Academy, its upcoming meetings and its involvement in other EU platforms such as the European Sustainable Shipping Forum (ESSF) and the Digital Transport and Logistics Forum (DTLF). After the meeting the participants took a coach to tour the port of Southampton, during which they received further information on ABP’s current activities and future development plans.
The next M&P WG meeting will take place in Cuxhaven on 28 February – 1 March 2018 at the kind invitation of Cuxport/Rhenus Logistics and ECG members will soon be contacted to already make their travel arrangements to this popular destination. For more information on this and other future M&P WG meetings please contact Tom Antonissen.