Keith Palmer, group CEO of the South Wales Chamber of Commerce and Centre for Business, discusses the importance of transport and traffic links to businesses here.

LAST week, the Minister for Economy, Science and Transport, Edwina Hart announced measures to improve roads near Narbeth, taking the ‘dualling’ of the A40 trunk road a step closer to reality.

This is, undoubtedly, welcome news for many with the A40 acting as a key commercial route for businesses in the region.

Following the redundancies at the Murco refinery last November, the Minister’s drive to push forward upgrades to the A40, including the village of Llandewi Velfrey’s access to Narberth’s Pemblewin roundabout, is an important milestone to strengthen transport links and boost trade along the A40.

These improvements will offer a range of opportunities to the business community in west Wales with upgrades to the road network allowing the freer movement of goods and services, providing more commercial opportunities and increasing trade to and from west Wales.

While road freight is just one of the means used to transports goods, its importance should not be underestimated. Latest Welsh Government statistics show that more than 42 million tonnes of road freight was carried within Wales in 2014, with 23 million tonnes of goods being exported out of Wales.

Maintaining and expanding road infrastructure is vital for securing Wales’s presence on an international scale. According to the Welsh Government, more than 400,000 tonnes of goods were exported from Wales to destinations outside the UK via the road network in 2014.

If Welsh businesses are to continue to export goods and services, it is vital that the right transport infrastructure is in place to allow them to do this.

Tourism also plays a prominent role in the Welsh economy and is particularly important to west Wales. A stronger road infrastructure can boost this sector considerably. Over 9.9 million people visited Wales in 2013 with tourist hotspots in west Wales thriving during the summer months.

The A40 acts as one of the main arteries to these popular destinations and the proposed upgrades will improve access for visitors and reduce delays, helping to encourage more holiday-makers and drive footfall to the area.

Upgrading the A40 is vital to securing a stronger economy in west Wales’, yet the effects of investment in other major Welsh roads such as the M4 and the A487 can also benefit the region with reduced traffic flow encouraging both tourism and businesses to locate in west Wales.

With summer just around the corner, west Wales will inevitably see an upsurge in trade and footfall, but there is more work to be done to ensure that businesses can harness even greater opportunities during this peak period.

It’s important that west Wales has robust road infrastructure in place, not only to accommodate the summer crowds, but to encourage and foster growth for businesses in the long-term.