Aurelio Martínez: “The ports and their logistics chains are key to facing extreme situations”

He points out that “we must prioritise models in which the ports coexist in perfect balance and harmony with their environment”.

The President of the PAV took part in the course “Strengthening port resilience against the pandemic” organised by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

Promoting a trade policy through good practices in the ports, promoting digital solutions and innovation and creating sustainable networks in the supply chain, the keys to facing the new challenges.

The president of the Port Authority of Valencia (APV), Aurelio Martínez, has assured that the crisis generated by COVID-19 has shown that “the ports and their logistics chains are key to facing extreme situations and for this reason, and given the likelihood that these events will be repeated, we have to be prepared for them. We are facing a new normality focused on a port world that is more digital, more innovative, more responsible, more resilient and carbon neutral”.

To face the challenges of situations such as those generated during the pandemic, Martínez indicated that the PAV is working on “promoting a commercial policy aimed at economic development through good practices in the ports and promoting digital solutions and innovation to improve the capacities of the actors of the port community”. Along these lines, he insisted on the need to “create sustainable knowledge networks to improve cooperation along the supply chain, favour the continuity of port operations in the event of situations such as that experienced in the COVID-19 pandemic, keep supply chains open, particularly for essential goods, and allow maritime trade to continue uninterrupted”.

The president of the PAV took part in the inauguration of the opening of the “Strengthening port resilience against the pandemic” course organised by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The event was also attended by Isabelle Durant, Acting Secretary-General of UNCTAD, Michael Gaffey, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Ireland to the United Nations; Aurora Díaz-Rato Revuelta, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Spain to the United Nations; David Jean-Marie, Managing Director and CEO of Barbados Port Inc and José Carlos Mario Beni, Comptroller of the General Administration of Ports S.E., Port of Buenos Aires.

More sustainable and inclusive development

The president of the PAV explained that “this crisis could be an opportunity to achieve a more sustainable and inclusive development, contributing to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals”. In this sense, Valenciaport is developing strategies that take these changes into account by promoting aspects such as safety, quality of life and sustainability and, just as we must ensure the normal development of port activity as a dynamic element of the economic growth of our business fabric, we must also prioritise management models that allow the ports to coexist in perfect balance and harmony with their environment, on a local and global scale.

Lessons of the crisis

During his intervention, the President of the PAV reviewed some of the conclusions drawn from the pandemic which are important for the future. For example, he explained that “the world has globalised in such a way that any distorting event in one country is immediately exported to the rest, as has happened with the collapse of the Suez Canal”.  Along these lines, Martínez indicated that “aid and recovery programmes must be planned to avoid collapses and congestion that distort markets to extremes such as the current ones”.

The head of Valenciaport also explained that the negative impacts are not homogeneous, and that they affect the weakest links in the trade flows more – less developed countries, countries far from the major traffic routes, etc. He also pointed out that the logistics chain is rigid in the short term, and a blockage in any link of the chain has repercussions for the rest. The costs and benefits of critical situations are not distributed equally along the logistics chain, nor between large companies and SMEs.

Finally, Martínez stressed that “the COVID-19 crisis and especially the post-crisis ones are causing serious risks of imbalances in trade flows, some of them temporary, but many of them more lasting. These include rising inflation, the relocation of certain sectors, the disruption of value chain flows and hidden protectionism.