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Published on Jul 11, 2014
Supply chains are increasingly complex and schedule-dependent, with shippers organising production and distribution around just-in-time delivery. Transport infrastructure and transport services have to perform to increasingly high levels of reliability to meet these demands. Logistics chains are built to reduce vulnerability to disruption but delays in individual consignments can still reverberate through the chain. Governments recognise the strategic importance of effective supply chains to economic growth, which is reflected in transport infrastructure investment, even in times of severe financial stress. APEC ministers, for example, have endorsed a 10% improvement target in terms of time, cost and reliability of the supply chain by 2015. Hinterland connections are increasingly central to the competitiveness of ports and the overall efficiency of the supply chain. High quality road, rail and inland shipping links greatly extend the reach of ports and high volume connections offer the possibility of locating key services -- warehousing and even customs processing -- away from constrained waterfronts. Effective competition and coordinated access to essential port facilities, particularly for rail operators, are critical to coping with increasing volumes of international trade.