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International Transport Forum Discussion Papers

ITF Discussion Papers make economic research, commissioned or carried out in-house at the International Transport Forum, available to researchers and practitioners. They describe preliminary results or research in progress by the author(s) and are published to stimulate discussion on a broad range of issues on which the ITF works.

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Port Investment and Container Shipping Markets

Roundtable Summary and Conclusions

Ports around the globe are planning expansions to respond to the growth of containerised maritime trade and to the development needs of their hinterland economies. Following the dip in trade induced by the 2007-2008 financial crisis, global volumes are on the rise again (Figure 1), driven by growth in the emerging economies. Growth in trade will be supported by the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement signed in Bali in December 2013 and expanding container port capacity is again a pressing issue in many locations. Inadequate container port infrastructure can be a severe logistics bottleneck and a constraint on growth. Efficiency and capacity need to increase in step with demand. At the same time port policy makers and container terminal operators have to match capacity to demand carefully to avoid costly overinvestment, a task complicated by rapid technological change in liner shipping markets with the introduction of larger vessels, rising fuel prices and restructuring through mergers and alliances.

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