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Port development

Port reform


By Remy G.A. Vyzelman

Captain Vyzelman is president and CEO of Integra Marine and Freight Services. And chairman of the Supervisory Board of Integra Port Services


An urgent challenge for us all

There have been three notable tipping points in the history of port development.

Two of these were related to customs law and excise taxes and they occurred many years apart, in the early 13th century and in the opening years of the 19th century. They set the pattern for modern-day seaports in terms of berths, warehouses and the separate roles of ship’s crew, stevedores, shipping agents and customs authorities. The third tipping point occurred much more recently, in 1991, and in this article* I would like to focus on that event – the eighth session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) in Colombia that resulted in the Cartagena Commitment. It had a major impact not only on port development but on liner shipping as a whole. The complete logistics shipping chain was altered forever.

The Cartagena session concluded that protectionism had failed to meet objectives such as improved quality of life in developing countries. The irony is that Unctad for many years supported governments in developing countries that had a policy of protectionism whereby the state had an active role in production and in ports and ocean transportation.

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