David Jones MP visited ABP Southampton just days before Christmas to discuss opportunities and hear the views of port chiefs as the UK prepares for exit negotiations with the European Union (EU).
The Brexit minister was keen to learn more about the impact Brexit will have on the Port of Southampton as the UK prepares for the unprecedented move.
The Port of Southampton plays a crucial role in UK trade as the number one export port, exporting £40bn of British manufactured goods, including £36bn of exports destined for markets outside of the EU.
It is also the UK’s number one cruise port and contributes more than £1bn to the national economy a year. As part of the talks, ABP informed Mr Jones on its five-year plan to invest £170m into the port of Southampton.
Jones, acknowledging the vital role ABP Southampton plays in economic development, said: "As the country’s biggest vehicle handling port and second largest container terminal, the Port of Southampton has a proud history of serving the local community, UK, Europe and beyond.
"Known as the 'Gateway to the World' the port plays an important role both for UK manufacturers looking to access international markets and cruise passengers travelling across the globe.
“The government recognises there may be challenges ahead, but is committed to getting the best deal for the UK, including the port and maritime industry.”
UK ports handle an estimated £511bn of goods, of which £228bn are exports and 30% of those pass through Associated British Ports, the owners and operators of the Port of Southampton.
ABP chief executive, James Cooper, said: “The Port of Southampton is the UK's leading export port and plays an integral part in UK industry supply chains.
“Southampton handles around 900,000 vehicles annually, with 60% of those British made cars en route to markets in America, the Middle East and the Far East.
“We welcome the opportunity to discuss the challenges Brexit may present to the port and maritime industry, but also to add a supportive voice as the government prepares for negotiations.
“We are already investing for the future and will continue to build on our existing strengths while exploring new markets that will help to ensure the port and the UK market, that relies on it for access to global markets, remains sustainable and prosperous.”