Categories: 1-Ports Coronavirus Info, Business, ESPOPublished On: 01.05.2020434 words2.2 min read

With COVID-19 turning port lives upside down, the European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO),  has launched a weekly briefing of its membership throughout Europe on the latest developments – inviting PortEconomics members that have contributed to the life of the association to provide thoughts and reactions. Peter De Langen is the first to contribute, with a column on how the recent might accelerate some trends that were already visible in the port world prior to the crisis.

The return of business as usual after corona?

by Peter De Langen

The Corona virus clearly has a huge global impact, most importantly through affecting the health of millions of people and the loss of human lives. The economic impact is also huge: small businesses suffer, entire sectors (tourism, leisure, non-food retail) are close to a standstill and the stock markets have plummeted, amongst others negatively affecting pensions.

In this column, I would like to share some thoughts on how this crisis may accelerate some trends that were already visible prior to the crisis.

Note that these are just reflections not conclusions based on in-depth analysis. If they turn out wrong feel free to point that out to me

First, this crisis is likely to accelerate the transition to digital. These weeks we order digitally and work from home through Teams, Skype, Zoom, and other tools. Amazon announced it is hiring over 100.000 workers to cope with the surge in business. In all likelihood, some/most of that additional business will stay once the pandemic is over, accelerating the growth of e-commerce. In the same way, ‘working from home’ may become even more widely accepted now that companies rely on it for weeks.

The transitions underway in (urban) mobility may also be accelerated by the Corona crisis. The huge positive effect on air quality from the drastic reduction in economic activity and especially of mobility is striking, with some studies claiming that the positive effect of the improved air quality on human lives is huge – and larger than the loss of human lives through the Corona crisis. For good reasons we are willing to shut down the economy to stop the virus, but it would be totally illogical to watch the air quality deteriorate once the economy starts up again, knowing this will take more lives and does not require a lockdown to solve it, just a rapid shift to electric mobility. So, I expect the crisis will accelerate -at least in some metropolitan regions- the shift to e-mobility, in ports as well as cities . . . . .

. . . . . continue reading the article by Peter de Langen on the Port Economics EU website here