Submission to the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into Australia's Maritime Logistics System

21 February 2022

Australia’s sea ports are the gateway through which much of the nation’s trade travels. In 2018-19 the combined value of Australia’s maritime imports and exports exceeded $550 billion, with over 1.5 billion tonnes moved by ship. This ranged from goods and equipment, through agricultural products, and to raw materials, energy products, and minerals.

Over the past two years there have been significant disruptions to global supply chains as a result of pandemic induced challenges. This has pushed up the cost of traded goods and added to inflationary pressures. Moreover, these disruptions have severely tested the resilience of the global supply chains serving Australia and highlighted the limitations in their ability to withstand external shocks. This is a critical issue, given not only the significance of trade to the Australian economy, but also the growing uncertainty in the strategic and trade environment in the Indo-Pacific.

The Container stevedoring monitoring report released by the ACCC in October 2021 highlights underlying issues in servicing the nation’s maritime logistics needs, beyond those caused by COVID-19. This includes the performance of Australian container ports relative to their global peers, reduced competition in the global shipping industry, as well as restrictive industrial instruments and practices that potentially harm productivity and increase disruption.

The BCA membership raised a number of matters, which cut across the terms of reference, with a focus on east coast container ports. In that context, the focus of this submission is on container trade in particular. Key topics addressed include landside transport and planning, port and shipping productivity and fees, and cross border regulatory frameworks.

You can read the full submission here.


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