24 January 2018
NZ Shippers’ Council Big Ships report underlines need for new integrated supply chain strategy
Increasingly bigger ships will place unprecedented demands on the efficiency of New Zealand’s supply chain infrastructure. If New Zealand is to keep pace with the global shipping industry’s relentless move to larger container vessels, it is imperative that there is integrated planning of investments right across the country’s freight corridors.
That is one of the key conclusions of the NZ Shippers’ Council’s 2017 review of its 2010 benchmark analysis: The Question of Bigger Ships – Securing New Zealand’s International Supply Chain.
Whereas the initial 2010 research report issued a warning that NZ’s international competitiveness could be threatened by lack of port infrastructure to accommodate the emerging trend of increasingly larger vessels, the latest research, undertaken by NZIER, points to broader supply chain vulnerabilities.
Chairman of the Shippers’ Council Mike Knowles said the earlier concerns that bigger ships may bypass NZ now seem unlikely to eventuate.
“New Zealand’s ports have heeded the recommendations of the Council’s earlier reports, and invested in the infrastructure necessary to accommodate bigger ships. The issue now is the capability of the entire supply chain to support efficient passage of freight. Bigger ships place bigger demands on the entire infrastructure. In the face of global alliances and consolidation of international shipping lines, it is more important than ever that a competitive environment is maintained,” said Mr Knowles.
The report notes that maintaining competition is New Zealand’s key insurance to maximising benefits from bigger ships.
“Given the existence of a vibrant and competitive market between ports Government should be cautious about talks of a port strategy. Rather than a ports strategy New Zealand needs a ‘supply chain strategy’ to ensure that we have integrated planning of investments or policy affecting road, rail and coastal shipping.”
Mr Knowles said that while the competitive environment within NZ is currently considered sound, the level of global consolidation of international shipping lines is of concern and requires close monitoring as there is risk that this will result in less competition in the NZ market.