Cooperation of Port Authorities: A Typology

Adapted from: Brooks M.R., McCalla, R., Pallis A.A., and Van der Lugt L. (2010). Cooperation and Coordination in Strategic Port Management: The Case of Atlantic Canada’s Ports. Canadian Journal of Transportation, 4(1), 29-42.

Examples of port cooperation provide a typology or classification of cooperation practices. As a first division, differentiation between formal and informal cooperation is noted. Formal would apply to legal agreements or written contracts, including memoranda of understanding (MoU); informal would be ad hoc in nature in response to a specific issue or as a trial before formal arrangements are agreed. The different forms of cooperation can then be grouped under four headings: marketing and business development, operations, administrative and regulatory.

In North America, Los Angeles and Long Beach cooperate to apply environmental initiatives (i.e. PierPass) and coordinate cargo storage fees to reduce congestion. Seattle and Tacoma cooperate on infrastructure, promotion, and environmental issues. The infrastructure projects are operational and administrative in scope, involving road and rail, to improve access to port areas.

In northwest Europe, the port authorities of Rotterdam, Antwerp, Hamburg, Bremen, and Le Havre meet regularly to discuss, amongst other matters of shared concern, financial, environmental, and security issues. Rotterdam and Amsterdam have merged their independent port data systems to exchange data between themselves, their customers, and customs. The formal creation of one single port community information system is both an operational and administrative initiative resulting from the demand of the international business community operating in both ports.

Regional cooperation in inter-continental marketing and operations is also evident in the Mediterranean region. Algeciras, Dover, Calais, and Tanger Med cooperate in marketing, commercial development, and ro-ro terminals management. Barcelona cooperates with the Tunisian Maritime Authority in enhancing the quality of port services, as do Las Palmas and several ports in Morocco.

In Asia, the term ‘port co-opetition’ has been used to describe the collaborating relations developed between competing neighboring ports in China and Hong Kong.