DP World hits out at Brexit uncertainty as UK seeks UAE trade deals

Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, chairman and CEO of DP World, expressed his frustration over the UK's Brexit uncertainty during the World Government Forum in Dubai.
Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, chairman and CEO of DP World
Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, chairman and CEO of DP World

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Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, chairman and CEO of DP World, issued his strongest statement yet on the uncertainty surrounding Brexit during the World Government Summit in Dubai.

Addressing the WGS on Tuesday, Bin Sulayem said that the failure so far to strike a Brexit deal was frustrating for businesses and said that deal or no deal, the UK needed to inject more certainty into the future outlook for businesses.

“Our problem is the indecisiveness of the government,” he said. “We don't care as businessmen whether they have Brexit, or Brexit with an agreement, or Brexit with a good agreement, or Brexit with a bad agreement.”

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“Once they decide, as businessmen, we are capable of running our business once all this basically indecisive environment disappears,” he added.

Bin Sulayem reiterated that DP World’s two ports on the English coastline were willing to offset any disruption after the March 29 deadline to quit the EU.

DP World London Gateway is the largest of these ports, and a key container port supplying logistics hubs in the British capital.

The possibility of a no-deal Brexit – with the introduction of new customs and regulatory checks – has triggered concerns over blockages at the Port of Dover, which handles more freight with continental Europe that its rivals.

DP World has said that London Gateway is well-placed to handle overflow traffic.

“We confirmed our ability to react immediately; there will not be any congestion,” a Dubai official told the Financial Times at the summit.

The comments from DP World came amid a visit to the UAE by UK trade secretary Liam Fox, who was in Dubai to tap UAE investors for the post-Brexit British economy.

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The minister was due to meet the chief executives of DP World and Emirates as part of a push to secure UAE investment outside of the property sector, according to a statement.

“The Emirates continues to be one of our most important investors with more than £4 billion in the UK economy,” he said as he visited the World Government Summit.

“As the UAE continues to diversify its interests abroad, there is a major opportunity for the UK to attract even more Emirati investment,” he said.

Britain is due to leave the European Union on March 29th, 2019, but the government’s efforts to secure a deal with the world’s largest trading bloc remain deadlocked with fewer than 50 days to go.

The failure to agree a new programme to cover the terms of the UK’s departure and the basis for future relations could see the UK crash out on March 29, severely disrupting trade and economic activity for months to come.

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