Some of the most prosperous cities in history—including those in ancient China, Egypt, Greece, and Rome, as well as in the medieval maritime republics of Italy—were located near coastal areas where the residents were able to build the grandest harbors in the world. Because these seaports provided access to an abundance of resources like seafood and other marine produce, they allowed these polities’ citizens to thrive. More than this, however,the seaports also opened these societies up to a world of exploration and trade, allowing them to integrate with other civilizations and bolstering their economic growth in the process.
This highlights the importance of seaports in supporting a country’s economy, especially in today’s modern world, where a truly global economy has further amplified the interdependence among nations. Among the key economic benefits of seaports are the creation of more jobs, faster and more efficient trade, wider transportation options, and increased supply of products and commodities coupled with lower prices of goods. Let’s take a better look at each one of these.
More Employment Opportunities
Each year, seaports help create thousands of jobs in the import-export, tourism, and commercial transport industries and allied fields. And as more and more goods and passengers come and leave each country through these ports every year, more infrastructure, supplies, and services will be required, creating even more jobs, both directly and indirectly.
Faster and More Efficient Trade
In terms of load capacity, moving goods through sea transportation is the safest and most cost-effective solution compared to other systems such as carrying goods by land or by air. Seaports provide this option for various industries, including and especially the manufacturing sector, which needs to transport both raw materials and finished goods all year round. This is why most industries are located in coastal areas or near major ports. Moreover, key products, like oil and natural gas, which drive the world’s economy and sometimes even dictate the costs of basic commodities, also enter most countries through seaports. Heavier and bigger items such as cars can also be shipped more economically through these same harbors.
Since more than 80% of global trade travel by sea, it is essential to keep shipping schedules on time to prevent jamming up supply chains and compromising the market. This scenario calls for the use of modern technological tools like data replication software, which can solve challenges related to the need to handle huge volumes of data. Examples of data that need to be processed by businesses and agencies that deal with the transport of commodities and merchandise include shipping schedules, weather forecasts, point-of-origin information, real-time asset tracking information, and many other types of data.
Wider Transportation Options
It may not be as popular as air travel when it comes to tourism, but traveling by sea provides a more unique, relaxed, and even intimate experience for travelers. Unless one is signing up for a luxury cruise, sea travel is also much cheaper compared to other modes of transportation. Sea travel also has a lower carbon footprint compared to land or air travel, making it the more environmentally sustainable option.
Those who aren’t used to traveling light may also find traveling on water even more delightful, since standard baggage allowances on most ships can range from 50 to 70 lbs per bag, with each passenger allowed up to two bags. These, among other factors, may encourage more tourists to travel by sea.
Increased Supply, Lower Prices
Since cargo ships can transport more goods at a time, more products can enter the market as well. This means that consumers will have more options to choose from, which should compel manufacturers and other market participants to offer better-quality products or to come up with more competitive pricing schemes for their goods. The billions of dollars’ worth of goods that pass through seaports each year—with merchandise exports reaching up to $15.46 trillion in 2016 alone—also helps local markets thrive,in addition to exposing consumers to a wider variety of items that may otherwise be unavailable locally.
Moreover, there are some places in the world that can only be accessed by water craft, making sea travel the only viable mode of moving goods and people. This makes seaports an even more important element in developing local economies.
The importance of sea ports to a nation’s economy is often overlooked in favor of other modes of transportation. However, history has already proven that seaports are a vital component of a healthy economy, and they will continue to be crucial in today’s world.