Mediterranean ports reformed
Beyond ports competing with each other they also have common concerns. It can be considered a step forward that 25 ports from ten Mediterranean Sea littoral states came together and agreed to coordinate their activities more closely. What unifies the entities is their desire to improve the position of the southern gateways in the flow of goods between Asia and Europe. The ITJ also attended the meeting.
Mathematically speaking, 25 is a square number. But if this total of ports from the Mediterranean Sea’s littoral states come together, then 25 is a representative circle. Intermed Gateways, an association of the ports of Barcelona, Genoa and Marseille Fos, sent out the invitations, with the event also staged under the auspices of the secretariat of the Union for the Mediterranean.
Representatives from Egypt, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Morocco, Slovenia, Spain, Tunisia and Turkey came to Marseille. Those attending did not all work for the port authorities concerned, but also included shipping industry and logistics managers and customs authority officials.
The first act
Christine Cabau Woehrel, the director of the port of Marseille, which had helped initiate the event and which hosted the forum at the end of November, was visibly pleased. She underlined that this get-together was but “the first act” in a process. More than 80 participants at the event discussed the role and potential of the Mediterranean region as one of the strategic interfaces of the world’s shipping routes.
The contributions to the MedPorts Forum made it clear that – beyond competitors between Mediterranean hubs – there are also joint concerns. Besides the classic fields for collaboration, such as safety and security, the environment and best practices, participants also identified the need for innovative supply chain solutions in the shipping industry and in the logistics sector.
Several speakers underlined the opportunities presented by “new forms of transport corridors”. These can offer customers unified customs clearance procedures, for example, faster handling and a division of labour between ports, which can be brought about by targeted infrastructure investment. The oft-cited “concerted approach from all Mediterranean ports” is surely one of the keys to future developments.
Fortifying the southern gateways
The players in the south of the continent believe they are on the right path to improve their ability to compete with the ports of the Northern Range. Rapid growth in box volumes over the past two years has shown this.
The ambitions of the players in the southern gateways have not been satiated yet, though. Further improvements to their hinterland corridors are expected to create an “extended economic community” for their clients. The first act to this end was played out in Marseille – now it all depends on the next steps.