THE logistics sector is set to play a key role in dragging Suffolk out of recession, said industry leaders as they joined forces to champion its ‘national leading’ industries.

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Suffolk Chamber of Commerce and the Felixstowe Port Users Association (FPUA) have united to promote the sector, which employs 32,000 across the sub-region, Chamber chief executive John Dugmore said it was “crucial” to the wider Suffolk economy.

“Industry across Suffolk has welcomed the positive news of UK plc coming out of recession.” he said.

“The hard work and commitment of the freight, shipping and logistics sector, many whom are members of the Felixstowe Port Users Association and Suffolk Chamber have played a key part in ensuring our local economy develops over the last couple of years and this new announcement will ensure this continues.”

The Felixstowe Port Users Association was established in 1969 so firms within the rapidly expanding port could work together as a cohesive body, rather than as separate entities.

It currently has over 100 members, encompassing a wider range of roles including shipping lines, forwarders and hauliers to ship repairers, solicitors and computer companies.

FPUA chairman and managing director of Lombard Shipping plc Simon Fraser said they would be working with the chamber to promote the county’s logistics industry.

“The Felixstowe Port Users’ Association is a pro-active, independent body for companies who conduct a locally based business activity through, or in, the Port of Felixstowe,” he said. “It currently has over 100 members, encompassing the wide variety of companies operating in and through the port, from shipping lines, forwarders and hauliers to ship repairers, solicitors and computer companies.”

The port sector based in Felixstowe makes up almost one fifth of the total sub-region workforce. The average wage in the sector is £29,000, almost 20% above the regional average.

“We simply cannot and should not underestimate the influence of this crucial sector to the wider Suffolk economy,” said Mr Dugmore.

“The chamber has nominated 2013 as its year of exporting to recognise the importance of international trade as an economic driver of success for the county of Suffolk.”

Mr Fraser said: “We are looking forward to working alongside John and his team at the chamber to promote the sector, both nationally and internationally.”

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