Maritime Transport Services Liberalization: Directions for Northeast Asia

  • Jun, Il-Soo (Vice President, The Korea Transport Institute)
  • Published : 2001.05.01


Competitive and reliable maritime transport services benefit the economy as a whole, and are key efficiency factors for the production of both goods and services. Although maritime transport sector is very liberalized compared to many other service sectors, certain obstacles must be overcome before full liberalization of the maritime transport can be realized. Particularly, maritime transport services in Northeast Asia are regulated by a complicated and outdated system. To remove these barkers two approaches can be used: a regional trading arrangement approach and a multilateral approach via WTO. However, multilateral efforts are not likely to be successful in achieving any concrete progress towards maritime transport liberalization in the short- to medium-term in Northeast Asia. Consequently, it may be the best to take the following two progressive approaches and to make them work towards liberalization of the maritime transport market: a bilateral approach and a trilateral approach. A gradual process of liberalization would expand the market, help operators achieve economies of scale, promote the international division of labor and specialization, enhance the effective management of shipping services, and promote the long-term interests and welfare of the user by improving service quality and diversifying services. A liberalized and integrated maritime transport market in Northeast Asia should achieve both of these long-run policy objectives by benefiting both the transport service users and the transport service providers. In order to move the maritime transport liberalization programs as quickly as possible, it is desirable to establish a "Regional Maritime Transport Liberalization Committee." We suggest it to be a Tripartite (China, Japan and Korea) Committee initially, which can later expand its membership to include other Northeast Asian countries.