The Port of Barcelona’s future challenges

  • 23/02/2021
  • 1 min reading time
Port of Barcelona
Photo: Port of Barcelona

The Master of Science in International Business (MScIB) organized a talk with Santiago Garcia-Milà to speak about the port’s mission, global trade tendencies and the future challenges for the Port of Barcelona. The online session was open to the ESCI-UPF community, and more than 160 people followed the conference.

The director of ESCI-UPF, Albert Carreras, presented the speaker, Santiago Garcia-Milà, Deputy General Manager of the Port of Barcelona Authority and President of the International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH). Between 2012-2016 Garcia-Milà was also the chairman of the European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO), and before entering into the port sector, he worked in international marketing for 20 years.

Garcia-Milà started his conference talking about the Port of Barcelona’s mission, which is not to become the biggest port in Spain or Europe but to create added value in the economy, increase competitiveness, and provide better logistics solutions. Furthermore, they want to achieve these goals sustainably, and to this aim, digitalization plays an important role.

Afterwards, the Deputy General Manager analyzed the evolution of cargo flows on major East-West maritime trade routes. He pointed out that since the 1990s, Asia has become the centre of international trade. Garcia-Milà also explained which are going to be the new future routes and their potentialities –like the Belt and Road Initiative. Besides, he described the upcoming challenges for the European ports like decarbonization, digitalization or cooperation.

Garcia-Milà spoke about the COVID-19 short-term impact on ports and supply chains and how it changed the market perspective. He explained that the coronavirus crisis has accelerated some of the global trends ports were almost facing. He also outlined the COVID-19 long-term impact supposed to be, and as an example, he mentioned an energy transition slowdown or a postponement of investments.

At the end of the talk, Garcia-Milà explained, in brief, the challenges faced by the Port of Barcelona during the last 20 years. Throughout this time, it has completed its expansion, has improved its connectivity, and has achieved an excellent provision of services. Thanks to this transformation, the Port of Barcelona is the biggest industrial and consumption port in the Mediterranean and Southern Europe.

Nowadays, the port operates with global clusters at a high level of specialization and has become an integrated and intermodal logistics hub. About the future challenges, only two weeks ago, the Port of Barcelona made public its 4th strategic plan for 2021-2025. In this plan, it is clear that sustainable growth is the main goal to reach, and the Port of Barcelona wants to achieve it on an economic, social and environmental level.

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