Ports as Sources of Prosperity for their Cities



Olaf Merk, administrator - Port-Cities Programme, Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Paris, France


Most large ports are located in cities and the majority of the largest world cities are port-cities. However, port-cities remain fairly unexplored in academic research. There is an ocean of studies on cities; for ports this would be a lake, for port-cities a pool. The knowledge on port-cities is fragmented and specific rather than comprehensive and comparative, and in most cases not policy-relevant, a few exceptions aside. That is the reason why we at the OECD have created the port-cities programme and taken up the challenge to come up with a comparative assessment of port-cities: their performance, the impacts of ports on their territory, and port-city policies that have worked to increase the positive effects. A synthesis report with our main conclusions will be released in September 2013, some of our main findings are revealed here.

Considering economic impacts

The economic impacts of ports are well documented. They lower the costs of trade, create added value and employment and are associated with innovation in port-related sectors. Just a few examples to illustrate this are: doubling in port efficiency of two countries was found to increase their bilateral trade volume by 33 percent. One tonne of port throughput is on average associated with USD$100 of economic value added based on a metastudy of more than hundred port impact studies, conducted for our programme…

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