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Transhipment Traffic and Gateway Volatility

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Author(s): Professor Theo Notteboom, Shanghai Maritime University, China; Ghent University, University of Antwerp, Belgium; and Antwerp Maritime Academy, Belgium

Professor Theo Notteboom overview the transhipment issue and how ports in and around Europe are responding.

Ports that handle a high level of transhipment traffic are often considered vulnerable due to these flows being highly contestable. It is less clear whether the vulnerability of transhipment ports leads to more throughput volatility compared to gateway ports (i.e. hinterland-bound cargo) or ports with a mixed cargo base (i.e. transhipment and gateway flows).

This contribution examines the relationship between throughput volatility and the sea-to-sea transhipment incidence/dependency of 61 ports in northern Europe and the Mediterranean.

Since the 1990s, transhipment hubs have emerged at strategic locations in the global maritime container network.

Many of the transhipment hubs are located close to strategic passageways such as the Straits of Gibraltar (e.g. Tanger Med, Algeciras, Sines), the Suez Canal (Damietta, Port Said, Alessandria), the Panama Canal (e.g. Colon, Balboa) and the Malacca Straits (Singapore, Port Klang, Tanjung Pelepas).

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