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Asian hub/feeder nets: the dynamics of restructuring

Ross Robinson

Maritime Policy & Management, 1998, vol. 25, issue 1, 21-40

Abstract: The emergence of hub/feeder networks in the Singapore-Japan corridor through the 1970s and 1980s reflected not only the rapid growth of containerized cargo in regional Southeast and East Asia but also the exceptional importance of Far East/transPacific and Far East/Europe mainline shipping services in structuring these networks. This paper argues that the mid-1990s is a defining moment in the restructuring of these networks; that the period represents, in fact, a convergence of a number of different though related trends impacting on the regional shipping market. More particularly, continuing high growth rates of containerized cargo have not only spawned new ports but have also increased the proportion of ports handling threshold volumes of containers for which mainline calls, rather than handling thfeeder operations, are justified. Further, the quite dramatic retionalization of already large container shipping lines into mergers and alliances bestows a new level of market power that is able to underwrite major changes in shipping schedules, port rotations and feeder linkages. This paper speculates that these developments are generating, and will continue to generate new, hierarchically organized port/shipping networks in which high order networks will include high efficiency/high cost operations; and lower order networks will include a mix of hub and direct-call ports that will focus on different market segments.

Date: 1998
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