Source: adapted from Rodrigue, J-P and T. Notteboom (2010) “Foreland-Based Regionalization: Integrating Intermediate Hubs with Port Hinterlands”, Research in Transportation Economics, Vol. 27, pp. 19-29.
The Mediterranean Sea provides a good example where intermediate hubs have contributed to the repositioning of the region within global trade flows. In the West Med, extensive hub-feeder container systems and shortsea shipping networks emerged since the mid-1990s to cope with the increasing volumes and connect to other European port regions. Terminals are typically owned, in whole or in part, by carriers that are efficiently using these facilities. Marsaxlokk on Malta, Gioia Tauro, Cagliari, and Taranto in Italy, and Algeciras in Spain act as turntables in a growing sea-sea transshipment business in the region. These sites were selected to serve continents, not regions, for transshipping at the crossing points of trade lanes and potential productivity and cost control. They are typically located far away from the immediate hinterland that historically guided port selection.
However, the transshipment business remains competitive and footloose. New transshipment hubs in North Africa offer very low deviations, such as Tangier-Med (Morocco), Djazair, and Djen-Djen (Algeria). Additionally, a maritime shipping company can opt for an additional deviation if it implies additional cargo from hinterland transportation that can be added to discretionary transshipment cargo. Thus, transshipment cargo handled at ports such as Valencia and Barcelona has grown despite higher deviations. Valencia has even been selected to be MSC’s Mediterranean hub.