The challenges of the Port of Barcelona’s Third Strategic Plan

Growth, competitiveness and sustainability are the three axes that underlie the Port of Barcelona’s Third Strategic Plan 2015-2020, which sets the main objectives for the coming years.   This Plan maintains the Port’s mission as defined in the previous two plans: “To contribute to the competitiveness of customers by providing efficient services responding to their needs for maritime transport, land transport and logistics services”. The new Plan takes up the objectives of the preceding two plans and incorporates the current conditions of international trade markets – volatility, concentrations of maritime companies, restructuring of the transport sector, etc. – which have led to a scenario of increasing competitiveness between ports and logistics chains.   The Port’s positioning and strategic objective for the period 2015-2020 is “to become the main Euroregion distribution centre in the Mediterranean competing with the ports of Northern Europe.” Consequently, the Third Strategic Plan defines the objectives that will allow the Port to facilitate economic growth in its surrounding area and expand its area of ​​influence. These objectives are specified in concrete goals such as reaching 70 million tonnes and 3 million TEUs by 2020.

Three axes and thirteen strategic objectives

The Port’s positioning by 2020 can be achieved through three strategic axes:

Growth. Once the enlargement is completed, the next step is to increase traffic. Growth is not an end in itself, but a source of wealth creation in the surrounding area.

Competitiveness. Growth means attracting new traffic in areas in which the Port is not currently the first choice and, therefore, generating a more efficient, attractive and competitive supply of logistics than at present, and more than the competition.

Sustainability. The Port’s actions must ensure that future generations can meet their economic, social and environmental needs. One of the main tools in this respect is promoting intermodality.     There are thirteen strategic objectives specified around these three axes in the form of specific goals and indicators to measure the degree of achievement at the end of the period. Among the various specific goals, which cover all aspects of port business and management, are:   Increasing strategic traffic up to 1.2 million new vehicles, 14 million tonnes of hydrocarbons and 3 million cruise passengers.   Achieving a 55% market share of the northeast interior of the Iberian Peninsula, 20% of Madrid and 15% of southern France.   Reducing the costs associated with container handling and port occupation costs per m2 by 25%.   Having road and rail accesses in place by 2018.   Achieving 90% of physical inspections in Customs within 17 hours.   Maintaining the leading role in productivity in the Mediterranean.

The previous plans of 1998 and 2003

The Port of Barcelona’s Third Strategic Plan covers and develops the proposals and experiences of the previous two. In 1998, all the professionals and companies in Barcelona Port Community adopted a common goal for the first time: to establish Barcelona as the first Euro-Mediterranean logistics platform acting as an intermodal centre and as a distribution and supply platform. The Second Strategic Plan, launched five years later, developed the concept of “networked port” and the growth strategy in the hinterland.   To develop the new Plan, an analysis was made of the situation of the Port of Barcelona and the Port Community on the one hand, and the economic environment and the development of international trade on the other. In the Port area, the Strategic Plan works on the basis of the fact that the main infrastructures included in the enlargement are already completed. The plan also reflects the entire Port Community’s orientation towards the needs of its customers, understanding customers to mean logistics operators, shipping companies and port operators such as shippers and end customers.   The “networked port” concept continues to develop with implementations in the hinterland, such as the Zaragoza Inland Goods Terminal, Terminal Intermodal Centro, and rail services to the principal markets. The Third Strategic Plan emphasises that Barcelona is the only port capable of serving both the French and Spanish markets.   As regards external factors, an analysis has been made of the trends in economics and international trade, development and port services and maritime transport, global logistics and sustainability. The wording of the Plan incorporates the concept of global sourcing, which envisages that production and distribution will evolve towards a single global market and a multipolar economy, with greater weight of the BRICs and countries like Mexico and Turkey.   As a result of this, changes are occurring in the population models, with the creation of an urban middle class in emerging countries, comprising different consumers who want to buy different products. This new situation is leading to a growth in exports to satisfy consumers located anywhere in the world and is increasing the complexity of logistics chains.

Sustainability is a growing factor

Sustainability is defined in the Third Strategic Plan from three dimensions: economic, social and environmental. The first two go together, as they involve economic development and job creation. The Port guarantees the companies in its area of influence access to global trade networks on the understanding that their activity affects the growth and internationalisation of Catalonia and Spain as a whole.   Environmental sustainability receives special attention in the new Plan. One of the Port’s objectives is to ensure that its future growth will not lead to congestion in the surrounding area, generate negative effects on mobility or increase greenhouse gas emissions. Achieving these goals requires increasing rail transport and SSS and intermodal solutions that are efficient, competitive and more environmentally friendly than the terrestrial mode. In this connection, in accordance with EU transport and environmental policies, the Mediterranean Corridor is becoming a key factor for the future competitiveness of the Port and its growth in the continental markets.   Road transport, which is the most widely used mode, must also become more competitive by incorporating technological and management solutions that optimise business performance and increases efficiency.   One key environmental initiative involves promoting the use of alternative energy sources, especially liquefied natural gas (LNG) for shipping and port activities to minimise the environmental impact of port activity.

Competitive supply chains

One of the goals of the Third Strategic Plan for 2020 – increasing the share of rail containers up to 20% – is markedly environmental in scope, but is also a mainstay for the Port’s future. To maintain the growth of traffic set out in the Plan, 50% of all containerised cargo handled must be sent from or to a place outside Catalonia. With the hinterland extended to 1,200 km, the Port requires a series of accesses and competitive, efficient and large capacity rail services to be able to channel future traffic outside its boundaries.   Finally, the Plan is committed to offering quality integrated services by creating efficient logistics chains adapted to the needs of companies and involving all stakeholders in port activity (terminals, shipping companies, logistics operators and ports).

imagenSource: News Port de Barcelona.