The International Association of Ports and Harbors, a global alliance of more
than 230 ports in 90 countries, which together handle over 60 percent of the
world’s seaborne trade and nearly 80% of its container traffic, held its mid-term
conference and board meeting in Jerusalem this week.
The Jerusalem Post
sat down for a panel discussion Tuesday with four of the conference’s key
players: IAPH president Geraldine Knatz, Port of Los Angeles; European Seaports
Organization (ESPO) chairman Victor Schoemakers, Port of Rotterdam; American
Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) chairman Armando Duarte, Santa Marta
Port, Colombia; and Israel Ports Company chairman Yechiel Leiter.
The IAPH recently published its new mission statement. What is this about?
: For many years, the IAPH mission statement was “World peace through world
trade and world trade through world ports.” That has been in use for over 50
years, but we felt it didn’t say what our organization does, which is to bring
everybody together and collaborate and share best practices. This new
mission has marked a shift toward greater interaction among our committee
members, having more active committees and tackling relevant issues. For
example, the IAPH, along with the World Shipping Council, has been at the
forefront on the overweight containers issue. This is a controversial issue, and
it was not easy even coming to agreement within the organization.
other area where we’ve had a lot of success is in sustainability.
developed the Environmental Ship Index, a global standard for
shipping. Los Angeles was the first to adopt this, Ashdod signed on
recently and so have most of the big European ports.What is the
significance of the IAPH-ESPO memorandum of understanding, or the “Treaty of
Jerusalem” as you’ve nicknamed it, which was signed this week?
is the primary counterpart of global bodies such as the United Nations and
International Maritime Organization. ESPO is the primary counterpart of the
European commission and other European bodies. A lot of legislation starts at
global institutions like the IMO and so on, and then it is transferred to
Europe. On the other hand, Europe sometimes takes the first step because
shipping and ports are a global business.
It is very difficult to have
different legislative systems in some parts of the world and not in others
because our clients are in shipping lines and therefore have to deal with
This MOU is an important step toward synchronizing our
interests and toward creating more cooperation.How are seaports and
their roof bodies dealing with global economic pressures?
: Trade dropped
significantly at the Port of Los Angeles [during the global financial crisis].
We anticipated it by cutting our own budget by $35 million and then giving that
to our customers through discounts in order to help them weather the storm. In
one of our programs, we gave them back 6% of everything they paid us the
previous year, to help them survive that year.
We started investing in
infrastructure because when your volumes are down, it’s a good time to make
physical improvements. Unemployment was very high in the Los Angeles area, so we
started our construction program both to prepare us for the future and to create
jobs for a lot of the longshoremen who were out of work. I’m hoping that by the
end of this year we’ll be back to where we were in 2006.Duarte:
past we went through years of uncertainty and instability and looked to ports in
the United States and Europe in order to learn from their examples. [Today], our
economic situation is similar to Israel’s. Most of our member countries are
growing at 6% to 8% annually, and we expect to maintain that situation. Cargo
increases every day by X amount of containers.
I remain focused on the
human side. I believe fully that a nation’s best treasure is its people. You
must train them and give them the best opportunities.
If they are happy,
they work with more effort, even if they have to work overtime.
hope that we can share all these experiences in the future with those countries
who have taught us so many things.
At Santa Marta we dedicate 5% of all
our income to our foundation, which supports the development of poor communities
in our city. For example, we have just completed construction of a housing
center for 5,000 poor kids, which was built with the support of Children
What that gives us is satisfaction.
It has also
helped us [build a relationship with the community], so that we have their
support when we file requests with the transport minister and government
authorities for extensions of our concession period.Leiter
: If you look
at the data from 2008 to 2010, you will see that Israeli ports
You rebound in an economic downturn when you apply
intellectual creativity and initiative.
You have to stay ahead of the
curve. For example, if Israel does not deepen and expand its ports, it won’t be
able to accommodate large ships. The industry is moving to large ships, and if
we can’t accommodate them, we’ll be left behind. You have to look at these
challenges as opportunities, and if you use these opportunities to build, then
you’re going to succeed.Schoemakers:
We also rebounded very quickly from
the crisis in 2008. We were the first port to see growth start again and now
have to deal with a second European crisis.
We are still maintaining a
growth of around 2% to 3% a year, which is quite extraordinary in the present
We are in competition with Hamburg, Bremen, Amsterdam and
Antwerp, so we also have to stay ahead of the curve. That is why we’re expanding
our port right now through the Maasvlakte 2 project, which is the biggest port
expansion plan in the world. In addition, we recently published our “Port Vision
2030,” which provides our national government, stakeholders, clients and
investors with confidence.
Our biggest issue, of course, is how to
formulate a logistical strategy for the European hinterland.
We can build
a fantastic port, but when it starts and ends with the port itself, then you
have a problem. Our strategy is focused on developing a new structure to supply
the hinterland, and to do that we have to work with the European Commission. So
that is why we are working hand in hand with the IAPH.Conference
delegates have mentioned the relationship between ports and the
environment. What are ports doing on environmental issues?
: We at
the IAPH created the World Climate Initiative, bringing together all the big
ports to focus on how we can reduce carbon. We put our money where our mouths
are, giving financial incentives to attract cleaner ships to our ports In Los
Angeles. As part of the effort to get the community behind us, we set our own
standards beyond regulatory control. This included mandating that ships turn
their engines off when in port and plug in to shoreside electricity and creating
our own requirement for low-sulphur fuel.
Much of what we did became the
regulation in California and then throughout the United
ESPO introduced its own environmental code of
practice many years ago, which guides us in dealing with environmental problems
in port planning and development.
European ports can apply to certify
their environmental behavior, so they can prove their performance to their
stakeholders and to the world.
At the Port of Rotterdam, every investment
and infrastructure project includes a program where we cooperate with
communities that are affected by our investments. The essential thing is to get
everyone on board and to manage the whole project, including the negative
external effects, through a mutual solution.
Instead of acting against
the court, we must ensure the community gets along with the port. That way we
are able to manage the whole process without having appeals to higher
We have been following the examples of the Europeans –
who are very strict – and the Americans. Most Colombian exports are sent to the
European Union or to the USA, so we must follow their initiatives, adapting it,
of course, to what we consider suitable for us.Leiter:
We are dredging
Haifa Port as we speak. We have to deepen our port from 15 meters to 17.5 meters
in order to make it possible to anchor larger ships. We have a representative
from the Environmental Protection Ministry sitting on the ship 24/7 and
monitoring the dredging operation. At the first sign that anything is going to
be compromised in an environmental sense the process stops, and we don’t go on
without the necessary permits.Would any of you like to add anything?
I want to add something about the significance of hosting this
conference in Jerusalem. The father of international law, a Dutchman by the name
of Hugo Grotius, was asked by his government to write a position paper that
would legitimate his country’s control of the high seas.
In response to
Grotius’s book, Mare Liberum
[Open Seas], the English government appealed to
well-known jurist John Selden to write a paper claiming that there were borders
in the seas. Selden entitled his book Mare Clausum
led to a debate between Selden and Grotius which revolved around their
interpretations of a section of the Talmud tractate Sanhedrin, which wrestled
with the question of how to draw borders in the high seas. And here we are at an
international conference on the seas in Jerusalem, 500 years after Grotius’s and
Selden’s argument. That really gives me a thrill.