A MAJOR deal highlighting British and French business relations will be signed in Portsmouth today.
As Brexit talks begin, Portsmouth International Port and Brittany Ferries will make a 10-year commitment to each other, promising to strengthen long-established ties.
The deal will last until 2027, and will see the port work even more closely with its biggest customer.
The new agreement comes as the UK prepares to leave the EU.
This is the first time a formal deal this long has ever been signed, despite the relationship between the two organisations dating back more than 40 years.
Mike Sellers, port director of Portsmouth International Port, said: ‘This deal really demonstrates a belief in each other’s ability to deliver, and highlights the crucial role Portsmouth International Port and Brittany Ferries play in trade to France and Spain.
‘Whatever the details of the final Brexit deal are, we can now guarantee an ever stronger link for businesses and holidaymakers going to and from France and Spain from the port.’
The decade-long deal will be signed on board Brittany Ferries ship Bretagne. Port Director Mike Sellers will join Christophe Mathieu, chief executive of Brittany Ferries, and other guests at a lunch. Afterwards both will put pen to paper to sign the new agreement.
Portsmouth International Port recently announced a £9m investment in one of the berths used by Brittany Ferries. The current double decker linkspan, which acts as a drawbridge to load vehicles onto the ferry, will be replaced after 25 years of service.
Christophe Mathieu, chief executive of Brittany Ferries, said: ‘Regardless of Brexit, tourism will continue to connect the beautiful regions of southern England and northern France.
‘In signing this agreement I am therefore pleased to be strengthening our ties and making a long-term commitment to a city that has served as our international hub for decades.
‘Of course there may be challenges ahead. But we remain very positive about the future of trade and transport between the UK and France.’
Brittany Ferries is planning to build a new cleaner and greener ‘super ferry’, to be based at Portsmouth International Port. The ship will be powered by liquid natural gas, and will operate in tandem with the popular cruise ferry Mont St Michel.