Tackling the Chronic Lack of Investment in Scotland’s Ports

In this paper for the Jimmy Reid Foundation Alf Baird explains how the financialisation of port infrastructure in Scotland has weakened the competitiveness of trade with Scotland.

To maximise revenue from Scotland’s ports the private regulatory approach set up by government since the early 1980s results in port charges, dues and fees, which are higher than for other European ports damaging Scotland’s competitiveness. The paper explains that Scotland’s major seaports are debt-ridden, profit-maximising, self-regulating, estuarial monopolies owned by tax avoiding offshore registered private equity companies. This hinders new port investment and modernisation, leaving Scotland offering obsolete port infrastructure to an increasingly technologically advanced global shipping industry.

The paper argues that Scotland requires a maritime transport policy to manage the development of modern port infrastructure and to define regulatory functions consistent with Scotland’s trade needs and playing a fuller part within the delivery of Europe’s maritime policies.

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