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Globalisation, Privatisation and Restructuring of Ports

Marc H Juhel

Maritime Economics & Logistics, 2001, vol. 3, issue 2, 139-174

Abstract: The continuous process of change in international transport management in the last 10 years, from a segmented modal approach towards a much more integrated transport concept tailored to better meet the pressing needs of customer industries, is resulting in an increasing pressure on ports to adapt their role and function to this more demanding operational environment. This entails the rethinking of national port development strategies, as well as far-reaching reforms in the legislative, regulatory, and managerial environment within which commercial ports have to operate. In particular, the need to define new partnerships between the public and private sectors in port operations, investment financing and asset management leads to a review of the respective roles of public and private actors, and specifically calls for a clarification of the mandate of the public sector, and simultaneously of the missions it would be well placed to undertake. These missions are likely to be more of a catalyst and facilitator, together with a stress on assistance to public statutory duties, with a particular attention devoted to transport safety and environmental protection. New labour practices are also calling for a changing role for port workers' unions and a new style of dialogue between labour and public and private entities on the waterfront. Simultaneously, efficiency of inland transport to serve an increasing, and most often disputed hinterland has become a critical factor of the ports potential future, as well as of overall trade growth prospects. Today's global logistics organisation makes it mandatory for shippers worldwide to be able to rely on seamless transport chains, of which the port is a prominent node. Smooth interaction between the port and the city often surrounding it, in terms of transport networks requirements, environmental protection, and overall safety, therefore appears a prerequisite for effective delivery of integrated logistics services. Port authorities are likely to have a major role to play in fostering the development of an effective cooperation between interested public and private players, which will be required to make it possible to achieve the expected benefits of integrated transport and logistic operations. Finally, the institutional context, as well as the assets ownership and managerial framework, must be conducive to an optimal cost-effective utilisation of port facilities. This supposes openness to competition in provision of port services, and establishment of appropriate regulation arrangements where market conditions make it necessary. Physical and regulatory integration of transport networks, as well as comprehensive strategies for addressing development planning, environmental and social issues, will also be required to allow national port systems to provide local and regional economies with the services they need.International Journal of Maritime Economics (2001) 3, 139–174. doi: 10.1057/palgrave.ijme.9100012

Date: 2001
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