According to authors of a technical report on digitalization in the ports and maritime sector, ports must improve their position in respect of technological innovation and integration – or there will be tangible repercussions.
The report – Accelerating Digitalization: Critical Actions to Strengthen the Resilience of the Maritime Supply Chain – has been produced by the World Bank’s transport global practice and the World Ports Sustainability Program (WPSP) of the International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH).
“In the short term, these impediments will likely drive shortages of essential goods and higher prices; in the medium to longer term, they could result in slower economic growth, lower employment and higher trade costs,” says the report.
Prepared by a joint team of representatives from the World Bank’s transport global practice and the IAPH’s World Ports Sustainability Program, the ‘Accelerating Digitalization’ report was produced as a follow-up to a policy statement issued in June 2020 by a number of port and maritime industry organisations.
That statement listed nine priority areas, ranging from port call optimisation to cybersecurity, and was endorsed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
One of the lessons learned early in the pandemic was the need to ensure business continuity of the critical supply lines, notably the maritime gateways and the associated logistical chains, states the report. “Maritime transport carries 90 per cent of all merchandise trade and, as such, any impediment to the maritime logistical chains results in tangible repercussions for countries served by the port and their respective populations.”
It notes: “Experience so far and the risk of subsequent waves of COVID-19 underline the urgent need to improve the resilience of the maritime sector, through accelerating the digitalization of maritime trade and logistics, which will automate trading across borders and reduce traditional human interaction and paper-based transactions.”