Trade & investment

ICC calls for investment in ports as bottlenecks build up

  • 24 May 2005

ICC is concerned about the inadequacy of infrastructure serving many ports worldwide, threatening the smooth flow of global trade. It calls on the freight industry and public authorities to act now to expand freight transport infrastructure, reducing congestion on roads and railways to ports and eliminating bottlenecks.

In many ports, freight containers are piling high as a result of bottlenecks.

In a statement issued in connection with a conference of the International Association of Ports and Harbours (IAPH) in Shanghai, 21-27 May, the ICC Committee on Maritime Transport warns that freight transport infrastructure serving many ports is incapable of adequately handling current container volumes.

The committee spells out the consequences of delays caused by freight bottlenecks: missed berthing slots in subsequent ports, missed feeder and train connections, and higher fuel costs to adjust schedules. Delays seriously affect just-in-time distribution methods. Problems in one region affect the performance of facilities along the entire supply chain, incurring additional costs.

The number of international containerized cargo movements is rising dramatically. Transpacific cargo will grow by an anticipated 10-12% in 2006. Russia’s container traffic is rising by 15-20% a year. Container traffic between China and its trading partners will continue to expand.

The committee emphasizes that action is needed urgently to cope with the surge in container traffic. Owners and operators of ports and terminals need to plan now for the future, and public authorities should ensure that the necessary planning and investment tools are in place.

“World trade and commerce depend on sufficient and reliable transport services,” said the Chair of the ICC Committee on Maritime Transport, Cheng Eng Lua, Honorary Senior Advisor, Neptune Orient Lines Ltd. “So does the economic health of individual trading nations, their businesses, their workforces and ultimately their citizens.”

Summarizing, ICC emphasizes these points:

* Capacity shortage harms world trade;

* Demand for capacity is rising;

* Freight industry stakeholders and public authorities must work together to expand capacity and provide the necessary funding;

* Action is needed now.

The ICC Commission on Transport and Logistics promotes intermodal transport, and competitive, efficient transport markets worldwide. Its Committee on Maritime Transport brings together both maritime providers and users.

The IAPH conference is the first to be held in China. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the association.