Mersey Maritime chief says Merseyside will benefit from new ‘golden era’ of trade with the US

Chris Shirling-Rooke, chief executive of industry body Mersey Maritime, has returned from a high-level trade delegation to New York. Tony McDonough reports

Mersey Maritime chief executive Chris Shirling-Rooke


Liverpool city region could benefit by more than £500m in extra trade and investment in a new “golden era” as the US and UK move closer to a post-Brexit trade deal.

Chris Shirling-Rooke, chief executive of industry body Mersey Maritime, has returned from a high-level trade delegation to New York, headed by the Secretary of State for the Department of International Trade, Dr Liam Fox.

They held a meeting aboard the UK’s new state-of-the-art aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, with representatives from New York Maritime (NYMAR) and a range of leading American lawyers, bankers, shipbrokers, insurers and technologists in the first meeting of the Maritime Nations Forum.

Mr Shirling-Rooke believes that because Liverpool is one of Europe’s main westerly-facing ports then the increase in foreign direct investment (FDI) and exports post-Brexit with the US could see an extra £500m coming into Merseyside within five years.

Trade deal

The venue for the summit, which also included senior representatives of Maritime UK and Peel Group, was of particular significance for Merseyside as the flight decks of the Royal Navy vessel were built at Birkenhead shipyard Cammell Laird.

Just days before the meeting, the US Government had formally confirmed it intends to pursue a trade deal with the UK “as soon as it is ready” after leaving the EU and Mr Shirling-Rooke said those at the meeting were keen to do business with Britain’s maritime sector.

“We are the major west-facing port and the all the business leaders we spoke to in the States were adamant they want to significantly increase the volume of trade between our two nations.

“We already trade more with the US than any other single nation on the planet, there is a total of $1 trillion investment between the two countries and more than 1m British nationals go to work for US companies every day.

New York
Queen Mary 2 rendezvous with HMS Queen Elizabeth in New York harbour


“Peel Ports has invested in excess of £1bn into Liverpool2 and the infrastructure along the Manchester Ship Canal to Port Salford, and is equipped to handle the world’s biggest cargo vessels. Liverpool city region has built the most successful maritime cluster in Europe with an annual GVA contribution of more than £4bn.

“We are ready and willing step up to take full advantage of a new golden era of increased transatlantic trade and investment – this will re-energise the special relationship between the UK and the US.”

Export market

The US is the largest export market for the UK, while as a supplier of goods and services to the UK, the US comes in second. For both imports and exports the UK is only behind the US’s immediate neighbours, Canada and Mexico.

This interconnectedness extends beyond goods and services, to include foreign direct investment (FDI). For Britain, the US is the largest single source of FDI, while the US is also the largest destination for FDI by British firms.

Equally, The UK is ranked second as a destination for American companies to invest, accounting for 13% of the total foreign investment by US companies.

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