Concessioning in seaports: changing practices, changing market power?
Faculty of Applied Economics
Lisbon , 2010
12th World Conference on Transport Research, Lisbon July 11-15, 2010
University of Antwerp
The market power of port authorities has changed dramatically over the last few decades. Ports are important nodes in supply chains, but their role is determined rather by the big shipping companies and the powerful terminal operators that are active in it, than by the port authorities that govern them. One of the few trump cards left to port authorities is their concession policy. Port authorities can differentiate themselves through various concession characteristics: duration, price, throughput, value added and investment requirements, etc. At the same time, concessions are more and more considered to be cost or revenue elements. From the terminal operator‟s side, they appear to be important selection criteria when deciding to locate a terminal at a certain location in a specific port. From the port‟s side, concessions are an increasing source of income, especially as further liberalization forces port authorities to be financially self-sustaining, and as other sources of income are under pressure. This paper verifies in an empirical way to what extent concessions are an increasing source of cost and revenue to respective players. It is also analysed how strongly concessions are used as a means of diversification by port authorities in specifying their characteristics. It is checked whether a learning process can be discerned. This exercise is set up with the help of a number of case studies, which are spread geographically and in the nature of the cargo. This way, the paper allows getting more insight into concessioning and the way it is used as a strategic weapon by the different players involved in ports. Lessons are drawn which are of use to academics as well as to port practitioners.