Maritime transport underpins global supply chain linkages and economic interdependency with shipping and ports estimated to handle over 80 per cent of global merchandise trade by volume and more than 70 per cent by value. As a result, when the pandemic outbroke, the sector has worked as a transmission channel sending shockwaves across supply chains and regions. Indeed, disrupted transport networks and supply chains have significantly undermined world trade and economic activity, which contracted respectively by 9% and 4,9%. The maritime sector has been hit under several aspects: the pandemic has accelerated the regionalization of the global supply chains, has affected the market structure and strategic behaviour of shipping lines and has changed ports connectivity. Moreover, revenue pools of port authorities are under pressure, with a negative impact on the broader port ecosystem, in particular when it comes to employment or access to global markets.
However, the pandemic could also trigger and accelerate key positive changes aimed at strengthening ecosystems through partnership with terminals, industry clusters or improved hinterland connectivity. Investments in road and railway infrastructure in the framework of recovery plans will be crucial to increase port efficiency, inter-modality and reduced transport time, as well as ensuring the last mile connection. Secondly, digitalization and automation will be at the core of the recovery, increasing port efficiency and competitiveness but also raising question about the future labour management. Finally, the most prominent challenge is the sustainability of the port system and maritime transport. Indeed, international shipping is responsible for 2-3% of global GHG emissions and governments are striving to accelerate efforts towards carbon neutrality. EU has recently approved the Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy that requires all harbour nodes to become carbon neutral and the first zero emission ocean vessels operative by 2030. An important first step in terms of sustainability has recently been made through the establishment of a Sulphur Emission Control Area (SECA) in the Mediterranean.
These are major goals which require a cooperative approach among port authorities to ensure a coordinated recovery and sustainable transition for all the operators involved, in a new challenging landscape that will be dominated by an increased competition in the years to come.
- How has the port sector been affected by the pandemic? Which kind of measures have been put in place to counter the crisis?
- Which are the main trends that will shape and challenge the port sector’s future?
- How can port authorities improve their coordination and ensure an overall increase of the system’s efficiency?
This event is part of the ISPI Centre on Infrastructure - promoted with the knowledge partnership of McKinsey & Company, and will be held under Chatham House Rule.
By invitation only