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Privatization and regulation of the seaport industry


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  • Trujillo, Lourdes
  • Nombela, Gustavo


With containerized shipping, maritime transport has changed profoundly. Among other things, it has shifted from labor-intensive to more capital-intensive activities, including larger specialized ships that require substantial investments in port infrastructure and equipment. Integrated transport chains have reduced transport costs so much that a shipper may find a distant port cheaper than a closer one. Modern ports must be competitive on times and prices for their services. Seaports must be integrated within logistical chains to serve their many functions. An efficient seaport requires infrastructure, superstructure, equipment, adequate connections to other modes of transport, a well-motivated management, and qualified employees. The public sector has been an important port organizer in the past, but private participation in port operations and infrastructure could make ports significantly more competitive. The authors provide an overview of changes in maritime activity, discuss concession contracts (a key instrument of privatization), and analyze how regulatory mechanisms affect such factors as seaport tariffs, port congestion, port safety, the quality of cargo handling, and relevant indicators of performance, finances, and factor productivity. They describe how an optimal seaport system should allocate tasks between the various institutions involved, including the port authority. The degree of a seaport's decentralization, they conclude, depends on a country size, the number of ports it has, and its legal tradition. Among several national governments in Latin America--Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and Venezuela--there is an evident trend toward decentralization and greater autonomy for port authorities.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 2181.

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Date of creation: 30 Sep 1999
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:2181

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Keywords: Public Sector Economics&Finance; Transport and Trade Logistics; Common Carriers Industry; Municipal Financial Management; Banks&Banking Reform; Ports&Waterways; Transport Security; Transport and Trade Logistics; Common Carriers Industry; Public Sector Economics&Finance;


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  1. Crampes, Claude & Estache, Antonio, 1997. "Regulatory tradeoffs in designing concession contracts for infrastructure networks," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1854, The World Bank.
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Cited by:
  1. Alejandro Micco & Natalia Perez, 2002. "Factores determinantes de los costos del transporte marítimo," Research Department Publications, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department 4248, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  2. Trujillo, Lourdes & González, María Manuela & Jiménez, Juan Luis, 2013. "An overview on the reform process of African ports," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 25(C), pages 12-22.
  3. Carsten Fink & Aaditya Mattoo & Ileana Cristina Neagu, 2002. "Trade in International Maritime Services: How Much Does Policy Matter?," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, World Bank Group, vol. 16(1), pages 81-108, June.
  4. David Parker & Colin Kirkpatrick, 2005. "Privatisation in Developing Countries: A Review of the Evidence and the Policy Lessons," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 41(4), pages 513-541.
  5. José Antonio Reyes, 2007. "El punto que le falta al CAFTA," Research Department Publications, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department 4529, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  6. Ximena Clark & David Dollar & Alejandro Micco, 2004. "Port Efficiency, Maritime Transport Costs and Bilateral Trade," NBER Working Papers 10353, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Moreira, Paulo Pires, 2012. "A Análise De Sines Como Ativo Geoestratégico Nacional: Um Cluster Suportado Nas Redes Marítimas Mundiais
    [The Analysis of Sines as a Geostrategic Asset: A Cluster Supported in the Maritime Chain
    ," MPRA Paper 47694, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 04 Oct 2012.
  8. Trujillo Castellano, Lourdes & Betancor Cruz, Ofelia, 2000. "Infrastructures Privatization:New Options For Competition In Ports And Airports," ERSA conference papers ersa00p322, European Regional Science Association.
  9. Meersman, Hilde & Pauwels, Tom & Van de Voorde, Eddy & Vanelslander, Thierry, 2010. "Applying SMC pricing in PPPs for the maritime sector," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 87-101.
  10. Matsushima, Noriaki & Takauchi, Kazuhiro, 2014. "Port privatization in an international oligopoly," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 382-397.
  11. Cheon, SangHyun, 2007. "World Port Institutions and Productivity: Roles of Ownership, Corporate Structure, and Inter-port Competition," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt7t64h5wr, University of California Transportation Center.
  12. José Antonio Reyes, 2007. "The Missing Point in CAFTA," Research Department Publications, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department 4528, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  13. Tongzon, Jose & Heng, Wu, 2005. "Port privatization, efficiency and competitiveness: Some empirical evidence from container ports (terminals)," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 39(5), pages 405-424, June.
  14. Alejandro Micco & Natalia Perez, 2002. "Determinants of Maritime Transport Costs," Research Department Publications, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department 4247, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  15. Abbes, Souhir, 2007. "Marginal social cost pricing in European seaports," European Transport \ Trasporti Europei, ISTIEE, Institute for the Study of Transport within the European Economic Integration, ISTIEE, Institute for the Study of Transport within the European Economic Integration, issue 36, pages 4-26.


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