Participants at the Roundtable examined the broader issues that influence the development of container transport, focusing on the plans developed for expansion of port capacity in central Chile. Decisions to invest in new container ports are made not only in relation to forecast demand for local containerized 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.
In their review paper, which informed the Roundtable’s discussion, the KLU professors stressed that the development of container terminal capacity needs to be complemented by the expansion of the hinterland links in order to enhance supply chain value creation and reduce the external costs associated with increasing container flows. The importance of adequate hinterland infrastructural capabilities has increased as result of global trends towards larger container vessels, mounting inter-terminal competition and strengthening requirements for supply chain effectiveness.
Their paper argues that substantial improvements are possible at the interfaces between the container terminal operations and inland transport modes, involving, for example, modal shift from road to rail, the use of ‘dry ports’ and empty container management. These initiatives can yield environmental as well as economic benefits, responding to the growing concern about the sustainability of door-to-door supply chains for container traffic.
The paper identified three main elements of the hinterland supply chains that affect the ability of container terminals to create supply chain value: container gate systems, hinterland transport by road or rail, and dry ports. Each of these elements is characterized by specific policy, management and environmental challenges, but all need to be properly coordinated to minimize the risk of bottlenecks developing. It is only through a concerted effort among container terminals, local and national authorities, private road hauliers and railroad operators, as well as dry port managers and freight forwarders that the full benefits of new port and hinterland infrastructure can be maximized.
The International Transport Forum at the OECD is an intergovernmental organization with 54 member countries. It acts as a strategic think tank for transport policy. The OECD provides a forum in which governments can work together to share experiences and seek solutions to common problems.