Thursday, June 30, 2011

JS: the significance of the ports

The significance of ports ...
01/07/2011 | Javier Solana and Angel Saz

The port of Bercellona
The port of Bercellona
72% of goods arriving in the European Union passes through the northern ports. According to an analysis of the Port of Barcelona, ​​to redirect traffic to the ports of the south would reduce CO2 emissions by at least 50%.
The Mediterranean is undergoing a monumental political transformation. The protests on its southern bank set in motion a process of democratization in the region. In a less visible, perhaps, is experiencing a return to another, equally important in geopolitical terms. The shifting balance of global power from west to east, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, is causing considerable apprehension in the United States and Europe. Their loss of power is obvious geopolitical and economic. Even if the future moves of the new emerging powers Brazil, China and India remains uncertain, however, this change could represent an opportunity for the Mediterranean basin. The Atlantic area has dominated the last three centuries when the world was the center of gravity to the west. With the focus shifted to the east, however, the main links are global and Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean view of the close relationship that now connects Asia to Europe, the Mediterranean Sea.
In numbers, container traffic between the Far East and Europe now reaches 18 million TEUs (ton equivalent) per year, compared to 20 million TEUs of transpacific trade and only 4.4 million TEUs of transatlantic trade between Europe and America. The flow of containers from the Far East and Europe Mediterranean using the routes through the Suez Canal on a much more rapid than the passage of the Panama Canal, the circumnavigation of Africa, or even (so far hypothetical) Arctic ice-free route . Despite the prevalence of the Mediterranean route for container traffic between Europe and the Far East, 72% of goods arriving in the European Union passes through the northern ports (for example, Le Havre, Antwerp, Rotterdam, Bremen and Hamburg), while only 28% landed in the Southern European ports of Barcelona, ​​Marseille, Valencia and Genoa. More than half of the containers from the Far East to Milan is downloaded in the northern European ports. In other words, the majority of ships entering the Mediterranean from East Asia through the Suez Canal and passing in front of Genoa, Marseilles, Barcelona and Valencia, adding another three days before arriving in Rotterdam or Hamburg. Unload goods at a port in a port instead of Atlantic Southeast Europe implies a considerable financial and environmental burden, eroding Europe's competitiveness. According to an analysis of the Port of Barcelona, ​​taking into account the final destination and origin of goods imported and exported, the optimal distribution of the economic and environmental point of view of the flow of containers should be 37% in Northern European ports and 63 % in the South-European.
The study, based in part on the methodology of the European Agency for the Environment, concludes that redirect traffic to ports in southern Europe would reduce CO2 emissions by at least 50%.
Of course, a rebalancing of this kind is unthinkable for reasons both political and economic.After all, the current imbalance in container traffic reflects the economic dynamism of northern Europe, the efficiency of its ports, the excellent road and rail infrastructure connecting them to virtually every corner of the continent, and economies of scale generated by the volume of goods and intermediate. However, since it is expected that container traffic will increase by 164% by 2020, the ports of southern Europe should be allowed to increase their share of traffic between Europe and the Far East by 40-50%. To achieve this, the ports of southern Europe need stronger logistics infrastructure, particularly rail links them aggancino the main European network. The trans-European transport policy (TEN-T), currently under review by the European Union, it is crucial from this point of view: it provides guidelines for developing the basic infrastructure of the old continent. Although these facilities are largely funded by individual Member States of the EU through their own funds, the Ten-T is binding and marks the priorities for each of the participants. So it is absolutely essential that the Ten-T reflects the importance of rail links to ports in southern Europe.
To this end, the political criterion should be to help efficiency, reconciled by the consideration of environmental costs of transport by land and by sea. If Europe and its companies want to remain competitive and achieve the strategic goal of "Europe 2020" a continent that uses its resources with the railway infrastructure is vital in the Mediterranean. Of course, there is another geopolitical condition that must be met to achieve this balance: the Suez Canal must continue to be a passageway safe and reliable. Any threat to its normal operation would move the routes between Europe and the Far East to the southern tip of Africa, marginalizing the Mediterranean (and rising transport costs dramatically).
The Mediterranean has played a crucial role in early civilization in Egypt and Mesopotamia, was the sea of ​​the Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans, and was the center of the world for the first Arab and barbarians, then Ottomans and Spanish. Today, after having lost weight following the opening of new directions of European trade (to the Americas and the East), the Mediterranean has a great chance to regain lost prestige." LINK

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