The role of port infrastructure for economic development with an application to Belgium and the Port of Antwerp

Date: 7 December 2016

Venue: University of Antwerp - Stadscampus - Promotiezaal Grauwzusters - Lange Sint-Annastraat 7 - 2000 Antwerp (route: UAntwerpen, Stadscampus)

Time: 4:00 PM

PhD candidate: Marzieh Nazemzadeh Goki

Principal investigator: Prof Hilde Meersman

Co-principal investigator: Prof Thierry Vanelslander

Short description: PhD defence Marzieh Nazemzadeh Goki - Faculty of Applied Economics


Transport infrastructure plays an important role in the national economy, especially in an open and globalized economy. In a framework of a dynamic industrial environment, this thesis investigates the relationship between business location decisions and performance of strategic transport infrastructure. In this line of thought, port regional attractiveness and competitiveness is a main determinant.

This study has found that transport infrastructure has a positive and significant impact on Belgian economic growth in the period of 1990-2010 in addition to the traditional growth stimulating factors. Port infrastructure investments, particularly, had a significant influence above the direct and indirect effects they have on GDP and employment, because they contribute to broader economic effects such as the economic openness degree and network effects. The emphasis, consequently, becomes the investigation of this contribution of modern port infrastructure to economic growth and development.

To scrutinise the significance of this growth stimulating role of modern ports this thesis has identified a few derived factors originated in the dynamic environment and the related requisites for a modern port. In this process, a modern port develops to a commercial location which is able to fulfil the requirement of the spontaneous industrial environment. Based on this evolution of a port to a commercial location and the formation of a commercial cluster, port development and its improved regional competitive edge become important determinants of national competitiveness and economic growth . In this context, and to assist commercial cluster formation in a port, the most important factors to improve a port’s attractiveness from the port users’ point of view and based on a survey, are identified and ranked as port cost, quality of hinterland connection, geographical location, productivity, and capacity.