Port bosses warn over negative Brexit effect

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Bosses at Foyle Port have warned Brexit could damage future growth at the Lisahally facility.

However, they have also expressed confidence the 160 year old institution can weather any storms that might be blown up by an eventual United Kingdom exit from the European Union.

Bonnie Anley, Chair of the harbour authority, warned of the Port’s exposure to import and export tariffs.

In a statement accompanying the newly published annual accounts for 2016, which showed record turnover levels of £7 million in the last financial year, Ms Anley warned Brexit was a black squall on the horizon.

“The vote for Britain to leave the European Union has created a number of uncertainties which may be detrimental to the future growth of the Port.

“As an organisation situated close to the border it is our priority to safeguard the current status of ‘soft borders’ and to eschew any potential burden of import tariffs so that we remain on a level playing field with our competitors,” she commented.

“However, change brings with it both opportunity and risk. As an organisation in existence for over 160 years and having traded through many difficult economic times the Port remains on a solid strategic platform and has prepared well both to exploit opportunity and mitigate risk with a wide ranging and diverse strategy that focuses on port growth and portfolio expansion,” she added.

Ms Anley said she was confident, however, that any Brexit difficulties could be ironed out at a political level.

“As a key regional gateway and a significant employer that supports an estimated 1,000 jobs, LPHC has a vital role to play in the future of the North West region. We remain confident that the uncertainties arising from the Brexit vote will be resolved politically therefore safeguarding our continued contribution to the regional economy,” she stated.

Chief Executive Brian McGrath also acknowledged that the Brexit vote had been “unhelpful” and was a matter of concern for Port customers.

“A robust organisational balance sheet is vital as we look to address customer concerns following Britain’s vote to the leave the EU and the unhelpful resulting political uncertainty,” he warned.