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Increasing Security within an Optimised Commercial Operations Framework is the Key to Success
Ports are regarded as a significant vulnerability in the threat perception of domestic security agencies globally. There are competing forces between commercial and security imperatives that make open, fast, and efficient maritime trade a key security risk. The ability to increase security whilst simultaneously improving commercial operations is the ultimate goal, whereas slowing down trade and implementing burdensome security architecture are not only directly cost inhibitive but also involve huge indirect costs to trade. For port operators and security providers, integrated solutions to optimise convergence of technology, systems, people, and processes are the answer. Future technologies must be designed with that purpose in mind, and integrated, efficient solutions are in growing demand.
Securing border entry points at seaports is complicated by the sheer volume of traffic and critical importance of maritime trade. Ports are a complex network of trade and commerce, linking road, rail, air, and sea routes, and connecting pipelines with energy fields, consumers with businesses. The ports system is absolutely vital to global economic processes that cannot face disruption. As such, there is a potential dichotomy whereby increased security could mean increased delays and cost billions, while insufficient security could cause huge economic loss through terrorist attack and crime.
Maritime transport handles xx% of global trade by volume and accounts for over xx% of its value. Over the last xx– years, global seaborne trade has grown on average by over xx% every year, reaching almost xxbillion tons by the end of the last decade. Growth is expected to continue, in line with this historical trend, and is set to increase by almost xx% in the next ten years, reaching double by 2033. While bulk trade accounts for the largest share, containerized cargo grew most significantly, particularly from the 1980s onwards.
Developing countries are driving growth with regions such as Africa and Latin America, as well as countries such as Australia recently, supplying natural resources to high-demand countries such as China. Similarly, China is the leading exporter of consumer goods to the large consumer markets of North America and Europe. As a result, world container throughput increased by over xx%, reaching xxmillion twenty-foot-equivalent units (TEU) in 2010. The United Nations (UN) 2012 World Economic Situation and Prospects report and the International Maritime Organisation's (IMO) 2012 International Shipping: Facts and Figures document suggest sustained double-digit growth over the coming years, bolstered by a resumption of port infrastructure projects that were put on hold during the harshest period of global economic downturn between 2009 and 2012.
Increasing industrialization and globalisation, including increased foreign direct investment and global finance flows, have been the key drivers of this general increase in total trade volume along with a growing demand for consumer products. Advances in technology have also made shipping an increasingly efficient mode of logistics. Research indicates that global container throughput over the next xx-xx years is likely to grow by about xx% higher than GDP growth. In faster growing emerging-market regions, throughput is likely to be xx-xx% higher than this global average. Growth in container movement means increased traffic through ports and more investment in port infrastructure, creating opportunities for security providers.
The balance between commercial efficiency and rigorous security will continue to be difficult. Global just-in-time business models underpinning the world economy and the possibility of disruption caused by monolithic security processes would have a huge adverse impact. The Government Accountability Office in a report to the United States Congress in 2010 stated: "The container shipping system is designed for speed and efficiency. Transportation services are a critical component of the global, low inventory (i.e. just-in-time) distribution model that many manufacturers have adopted... supply chain analysts are concerned that increased security-related delay at seaports could threaten the efficiency gains achieved in inventory management over the past two decades". Upsetting this system unnecessarily would be profoundly detrimental. Therefore, economically-beneficial solutions must be the focus for both port stakeholders and security providers.
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