At the time of writing (2010), the world is witnessing the aftermath of the most severe financial sector meltdown in modern economic history caused by the real estate bubble in the United States. Its consequences on the real economy, especially in Europe, are yet to be fathomed, and this of course includes the longer-term impacts on international ocean transportation, ports and the distribution of global production.The economic recession has left the international shipping and port sectors with substantial overcapacity. This has resulted in drastic cost cutting measures on the one hand, and voluntary, often consensual, and coordinated reduction of supply on the other. These measures, together with a noticeable recovery in demand, are gradually leading again to improvement in prices charged by carriers and other transport service providers.In view of the country's expanse; size of population; and regional inequalities, India's dry ports (inland cargo consolidation and distribution centres) are seen by the government as a pivot of export-led growth and economic development (Haralambides & Gujar, 2011). Moreover, public and private sectors alike see the coordinated development of dry ports as the only way forward in terms of easing pressures at congested coastal ports, thus improving supply chain efficiency. In spite of this, dry port development and operations are still dominated by the public sector, under prices, capacity, land acquisition policies and other conditions that make private sector participation risky and comparatively unattractive. In order to rationalize dry port capacity and prices, this paper argues in favour of greater devolution through competition-enhancing Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs). The paper puts forward recommendations for the necessary legal, regulatory and general economic policy interventions based on international best practice, while keeping Indian specificities in the right perspective.

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Research in Transportation Economics
Erasmus School of Economics

Haralambides, H, & Gujar, G.C. (2011). The Indian dry ports sector, pricing policies and opportunities for public-private partnerships. Research in Transportation Economics, 33(1), 51–58. doi:10.1016/j.retrec.2011.08.006