The first rough brushstrokes of this paper were put 20 years ago, mostly in the later part of this paper, concerning the issue of port reform. At that time, I was working for ILO, on the labor aspects of structural adjustment programs, as well as for the European Commission (Commissioner Kinnock), on matters of European port policy.
Since then, the text has expanded substantially to include globalization, containerization, the mega-ships controversy, port competition, transshipment, financing of ports, port labor, and general port management issues. Most of the latter issues derive partly from my recent experiences as president of the port of Brindisi: a provincial town of southern Italy (Apulian Region) which taught me the problems of economic dualism, underdevelopment, and north–south divides in the best possible hands-on way.
Readers are strongly advised not to skip my frequent footnotes, which I hope many will find most entertaining. Many of my countless revisions, improvements, updates, and additions have appeared earlier in various forms, including posts on my blog, and some are also included in these footnotes.
Finally, it is not without some satisfaction to see, through this review, that almost everything I was predicting all these years on the evolution of ports towards entrepreneurial entities, and the diseconomies of scale posed by mega-ships on ports, shippers, and the supply chain, have come true in 2017.