The boom is yet to come
The onset of the global financial and economic crisis led the maritime industry to increasingly identify growth opportunities in emerging economies from 2008 onwards. However, the euphoria over market conditions in these countries, particularly in the BRIC states, was greater in 2010 than it is today. Brazil is one of the examples to illustrate this.
The shipping industry is banking on the so-called emerging economies as the great hope for better results. This fact was already on everybody’s lips in 2010, and it still applies today. The growth of the gross national products in the BRIC countries in particular was seen as a promise of high returns four years ago.
In an article on the investment plans of the Dutch terminal operator APMT we quoted Christian Moller Laursen, the Maersk subsidiary’s vice-president, who emphasised that in the new markets, capacity utilisation and growth were just waiting to be scooped up by terminal operators, and that at a far greater level than in developed countries. In theory, that was correct. Over the past ten years, the BRIC countries have increased their share of gross global economic output from 18 to 28%.
Terminal operators had and have high hopes for positive business results, especially in Brazil, the largest Latin American country both in terms of land mass as well as when measured by economic power. Analysts believe the greatest growth potential lies along the country’s northern and northeastern coasts. To take advantage of that potential, however, infrastructure improvements are essential. Among the new facilities that are urgently needed are new road and airports and expanded or new ports.
Private equity for national progress
Nevertheless, the Brazilian government recently denied APMT and other private operators preferential treatment in calls for tender for the operation of container terminals in the north and northeast of the country. The argument was that the government wanted to strengthen its economy independently. APMT had been planning to invest in Suape, near Recife, and in Manaus, in the interior.
Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff has initiated an investment programme with approximately USD 100 billion of private equity capital in the context of this development effort. So far, mostly roads and airports have benefited from the new infrastructure expansion plans.
A number of elements therefore have to be set in motion for «growth to be scooped up». But some hope is in sight. The minister in charge of ports, Antonio Henrique Silveria, has announced that a bidding process for private companies is set to begin rather soon – even though the Brazilian fiscal court has actually vetoed the plan. Meanwhile, the Rotterdam port authority has come to an agreement with Terminal Presidente Kennedy Logistica for the construction of a new port in Vitoria.