Some Considerations Concerning Regulation and Competition in the Port Sector
The aim of this paper is to discuss the circumstances in which the process of competition between ports takes place in Spain âˆ’ circumstances arising from the way the port system is currently set up and from the regulations governing it. The importance of this matter lies both in the fact that intensified competition between ports is the way to set about boosting the efficiency of the Spanish port sector and in the relevance of this business to the economies of the regions in which the ports are located. It is precisely for this reason that the reform instituted in 1992 aimed to combine balanced development of the national port system with the defence of the interests of autonomous regions. To this end the current regulatory framework provides for the possibility of port authorities drawing up their own competitive strategies, but makes their implementation conditional upon approval of their business plan by the Spanish state port authority. The latter body coordinates the national port system to ensure the guidelines set by the central government authorities are followed in the field of transport. However, the scale of the differences which exist among both the size of facilities and their relevant markets on the one hand, and the financial and economic circumstances of each of them on the other, suggest that each port authority's needs must be very different. Consequently, their competitive strategies must also be very different. It is therefore valid to ask whether coping with this diversity calls for different guidelines to regulate their freedom of action. Key words: Competition, regulation, port sector JEL classification numbers: L1, L5, L9
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