The core objective of National Ports Policy is to facilitate a competitive and effective market for maritime transport services. The issue of competition is a critical one in terms of ensuring that our economy is served by the type of port facilities and services it requires.

The vast majority of our port infrastructure is owned by the State. The current structure of the State commercial ports sector is that of independent commercial entities, each required to further develop their individual commercial business. Competition within the sector exists both in terms of inter-port competition and indeed intra-port competition, as evidenced in the competing licensed private-sector-operated terminals within the Dublin port estate as well as the competing private-sector service providers operating in various ports.

It must be acknowledged that competition between ports can be limited due to their geographical location and thus accessibility to major shipping routes and domestic marketplaces. The natural advantage enjoyed by certain ports can be countered by the adoption of a landlord-type operating model, which provides for intra-port competition, as well as the emergence of robust, sustainable and well-connected ports capable of offering services on an appropriate scale, particularly within the unitised sectors.

In November 2013 the Competition Authority published ‘Competition in the Irish ports sector’, a study instigated at the request of the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation as part of the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs. A copy of the report is available through the link below.

National Ports Policy committed the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport to consider and respond to the Competition Authority on foot of the publication of its report and a copy of the Minister’s response to the Authority is available below.