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Port Competition and Hinterland Connections

Roundtable Report 143

This Roundtable discusses the policy and regulatory challenges posed by the rapidly changing port environment. The sector has changed tremendously in recent decades with technological and organisational innovation and a powerful expansion of trade. Although ports serve hinterlands that now run deep into continents, competition among ports is increasingly intense and their bargaining power in the supply chain has consequently weakened. Integration of supply-chain operations on a global scale has greatly increased productivity but raises issues of both competition and sustainability.

Concentration among shipping lines and terminal operators may generate market power. National competition authorities have the power to address this but might not fully appreciate the international dimension. Greater port throughput meets with decreasing resistance from local communities because of pollution and congestion. In addition, local regulation is warranted but made difficult by the distribution of bargaining power among stakeholders. Higher-level authorities could develop more effective policies.