Ports and Intermodal Transport, Globalization and growth in World-trade:

Everybody knows that the "Globalization" had its origin in the massive use of "containers", which began in 1956 in the United States and spread in the sixties to Europe. There is no doubt that the industrialized countries promoted the use of containers in their own convenience: They replaced high labor-costs and lack of people willing to do the hard work of longshoremen, with costly containers and equipment.

For emerging countries the changes resulted in many cases in loss of jobs for casual labor, who could not find other work and moreover they also had to make great investments. About this evolution many books and international studies have been published since 1980 to date, that deserve our attention. Many of them “hint at the fact” that while emerging countries were "dragged" by the changes, the core countries STUDIED HOW THEY COULD IMPROVE THEIR "COMPETITIVENESS".

They began to study the effects which the new forms of "Trade" and Transport" had in their own economies and constantly tried to improve their competitiveness. New ways of hiring transport developed; Intermodal Transportation in the U.S. and Combined Transport in Europe were the new terms. Then followed "International Physical Distribution" and the magic words "LOGISTICS" and finally the term "Multimodal Transport" was invented between 1972 and 1980, in Geneva, during the discussions of the intended Multimodal Transport Convention. (Many people in the world talk about Multimodal Transport, but it seems that only few understand that this is about “liability regimes”).

In 2013 the University of Nottingham published the results of a study, which of the 2 main pillars of this growth in world-trade had the greatest positive effect: TRADE FACILITATION or INTERMODAL TRANSPORT, which had reduced the transport-costs. The final conclusion was that INTERMODAL TANSPORT HAS BEEN THE MAIN FACTOR and that this growth in world-trade has benefited both the core countries and all "emerging countries".

An attentive reader of many of these high level international studies, might conclude that in general the leaders of many "emerging countries" have paid little attention to what happened during this evolution and failed to heed the benefits it has definitely brought to World Trade.

The continued efforts of UNCTAD / U.N. Commission on Trade and Development, created in 1964, to bring new knowledge to developing countries, were read only by a small group of people who were directly affected in their daily work by the changes. Meanwhile in the U.S., Europe and Japan, major "think-tanks" analyzed after each step, how they could advance further. All effects of developments are studied carefully on a "Scheme of Commerce and International Transport," where each penny that is spent for carrying a cargo or a person from origin to destination, is taken into account. In this scheme they especially evaluate how they can cover the needs of infrastructure as efficient and economical as possible: ”Intermodal Transport Policies”. And here is where transport in waterways comes into the centre ofattention.

I believe that in our region, we should pay much more attention to some of those international studies, which I have cited in several of my presentations. International collaboration is also needed.