Integration and Competition between Transport and Logistics Businesses

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Some very large multinational transport and logistics firms have emerged to provide integrated transport services to shippers in the globalised economy. Do these firms escape regulatory oversight from national competition authorities because of their sheer scale? Do they pose additional threats to competition when they merge with or acquire other companies in the supply chain?

The Round Table brought competition experts together with researchers on maritime shipping, rail freight and logistics to identify critical competition issues and appropriate regulatory responses. An examination of the strategies of transport and logistics companies reveals that vertical integration can yield efficiencies, but usually reflects a need to improve the use of expensive fixed assets rather than control all parts of the supply chain. This usually explains why shipping lines acquire terminal operators. Horizontal acquisitions, where similar companies serving the same market merge, are more likely to raise competition concerns. Problems are particularly prone to arise at bottleneck infrastructure facilities.

The Round Table report provides an economic framework for examining competition in global transport and logistics businesses, discusses the adequacy of the remedies available to regulators when competition is threatened, and explores the role of competition authorities and Transport Ministries in ensuring markets are efficient.

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Empirical Evidence for Integration and Disintegration of Maritime Shipping, Port and Logistics Activities

International Transport Forum

In 50 years, containerisation has become the backbone of globalisation. That it has done so can be attributed to the beneficial interaction of three broad types of factor: technical, economic and organisational. In the beginning, containerisation was nothing more than a simple technical innovation. However, as an intermodal tool, the container paved the way for new and long-term organisational models in the transport sector. These organisational factors challenged transport actors, who had to redefine the demarcation lines between their respective businesses in order to bring reliable door-to-door transport chains with a global reach into operation. The opportunities that containerisation offered would have remained a dead letter had they not coincided with the deep upheavals in economic factors since the 1970s. The very strong growth in international trade in manufactured products, systematically higher than growth in international trade overall – itself higher than GDP growth – marks a deeper division in international labour, which was made possible only through the support of a strong transport system.

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