Multi-facing role of port authorities

The term ‘port authority’ might not be fashionable today, but one supporter says there is still a clear part for them to play.

“I’m a very strong believer in the role of port authorities,” said Patrick Verhoeven, managing director of policy and strategy at the International Association of Ports and Harbors. “I think it still very clearly says what it is.”

Port authorities, he continued, are a “hybrid”. On the one hand they are outspoken communication players, but on the other they have an important public vocation role, even if they have been corporatised or privatised.

“It is that hybrid role that provides great potential for leadership, sustainability, for closer collaboration and a stronger voice of the port industry in global fora such as the IMO,” said Mr Verhoeven.

Further, he urged ports collectively to be more vocal on the benefits trade brings, especially when trying to secure global investment.

Commenting on the ‘big ship ready’ debate, Mr Verhoeven questioned whether ports should work more closely with shippers or whether they should follow the strategies of the shipping lines an explore more “profound collaboration down the path of mergers and alliances”.

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