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Maritime & Logistics:
Understanding Infrastructure Trends and Synergies

By Mateo Wiegold, Content Producer, TOC Worldwide

The dynamics of the logistics sector are influencing the trends driving the modernization and expansion of maritime & logistics infrastructure.

As we enter a new generation of trade, now more than ever ports and terminals play a more significant part as nodes for transport, energy, and information. Indeed, experts agree that this is the way forward: According to KPMG’s report, Emerging Trends in Infrastructure, the main drivers for port infrastructure in the next decade (2020-30) will be shaped by three key pillars: Growth, Sustainability & Resilience.

In the Americas – and particularly the Latin American region – these pillars are translated into a plethora of projects promising to catapult the competitiveness of the country each project.

The star of the show seems to be the upcoming Port of Chancay, 80 kms north of the Peruvian capital, Lima.

The project is being developed in Peru by COSCO Shipping as part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and, according to COSCO’s chairman Xy Lirong, will be an important hub for maritime trade in Latin America. However, COSCO is not taking on this challenge alone: Fellow state companies China Railway Group and China Communications Construction, especially its China Harbour Engineering unit, are leading the building of the new port, which is scheduled to start operations in 2024. 

While the construction of future Port of Chancay represents a US$ 3bn investment, another project that could pose significant competition is the Panama Canal Container Port (PCCP). Currently at 40% of the process, the US$ 1.4bn project is being developed by Notarc Management Group (NMG) in partnership with TiL (part of MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company), and once complete it’s expected to handle 2.5 million TEUs in its initial years and grow to a capacity of 5 million TEUs.

Other significant ventures in the Pacific Coast of South America include DP World’s expansions at the Port of Callao (Peru’s main commercial port at the moment) and at Posorja in Ecuador. Meanwhile, the Atlantic Coast is currently witnessing a US$ 3.12bn investment at the Port of Santos (Brazil), which along strong privatization policies implemented by the government, is set to enhance the country’s competitiveness by modernizing the port infrastructure and improving its hinterland connections.

By modernizing and expanding infrastructure within the maritime & logistics sector we can predict the optimization of trade, yet it is worth reflecting on how this will change the logistics landscape in the Americas – just as it is expected with the future Port of Chancay, can we assume that new hubs will develop across region, and as such, that supply chains may be transformed?

In an industry that keeps moving towards integration of the value chain, what other requirements should be factored in when conceiving infrastructure development in ports and terminals?

Returning to the future Port of Chancay, it is worth mentioning its adjacent logistics park under the wing of Volcan mining company and its links to the Pan-American highway. 

AP Moller Maersk, on the Atlantic Coast, is currently developing important warehouse facilities in Brazil that should make the South American giant an attractive centre for maritime trade and commerce.

Moving to North America, Hapag-Lloyd’s latest decision to organize rail connections between Norfolk, Los Angeles and Oakland further confirms the trend towards integration of the supply chain as shipping lines and terminal operators now look to become logistics integrators and trade facilitators, respectively. 

At local levels we must not forget that port infrastructure development will also carry economic, social, and environmental impacts upon surrounding communities, for the better if properly integrated or with potential hazardous effects if not.

As the concept of ports evolves from a ‘vessel parking areas designated for cargo unloading’ to that of a node that facilitates international trade, infrastructure plans must not be limited only just to what happens in the yard, but they must include a holistic approach that encompasses hinterland connectivity, sustainable energy sources and data exchange, as well as integration with local economies. Only then can we talk about the next generation of trade. 

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