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Port Investment and Container Shipping Markets Roundtable

Scope

Decisions to invest in new container ports are made not only in relation to forecast demand for local containerised trade but also in the broader context of evolving maritime transport markets, competition between ports and the development of port hinterland transport infrastructure and community policy towards port traffic. A major expansion of port capacity is planned in the central region of Chile, as demand for container traffic is forecast to rapidly outstrip the capacity of existing and committed facilities at the current pace of economic expansion of the national economy. This coincides with the prospect of major change in global shipping markets when enlargement of the locks in the Panama Canal to accommodate a tripling of vessel size to 12 600 TEU is complete in 2014. Even larger ships, of 18 000 TEU capacity, are now being introduced on the busy Asia-Europe routes, displacing new-Panamax size vessels onto routes currently operated by smaller vessels, with a cascade effect across many markets. Not all routes will be served by very large vessels but the ability to accommodate very large ships has to be considered in planning new port developments, especially where there is likely to be competition between ports. In this environment, aggressive yet sensible port planning is key to the sustained economic growth of an exports-driven economy such as Chile’s. 

The International Transport Forum Roundtable on Port Investment and Container Shipping Markets planned jointly with the Government of Chile examined the broader issues that influence the development of container transport, focusing on the plans developed for expansion of port capacity in central Chile. Discussions were structured around four papers examining the broader issues.