Global shipping and port industry has been exposed to unprecedented changes in the past decade and these changes call for new approaches by the port terminal operators to survice. These changes are also impacting Korean port industry, but because Korean port terminal operators are relatively less experienced and competitive when compared to the global terminal operators(GTOs), the port industry is facing a great challenges. Furthermore, more than half of Busan container terminals are being operated by foregin operators including GTOs, such as HPH, DPW and PSA. Under this circumstances, Korean government is putting emphasis to Korean port ternimal companies to grow as globalized terminal operators to compete with the existing GTOs in Busan and to find more opportunities in overseas.
The purpose of this study is to find out the best globalization strategies for Korean port terminal companies who are in relatively less matured stage. And the method used in this study is the analysis of the strategies of the existing big 4 GTOs and the case study of Korean and global port terminal companies including both successful and unsuccessful cases.
The analysis of the current market situation of shipping industry and port industry implies that the business environment is much different from when the big 4 GTOs were growing and the differences can be summarized as below.
First, the change of shipping industry including mega vessel with mega alliances call for bigger capital investment by the terminal operators to maintain the productivity of the termianl operation.
Second, the expansion of new protectionism may hinder the entrance to the new overseas market and the resistance by the nation where the potential market is located can leave less choices for the portential port terminal companies.
Third, the Korean port companies have less experience in overseas market and financial capability is in much inferior conditions compared to the big 4 GTOs.
Forth, while the big 4 GTOs started their globalization to expand or diversify the market when their home markets became mature and stagnant, but Korean port companies are looking at the globalization as a method to strengthen its competitiveness to compete with the big 4 GTOs in the home market.
Therefore, the Korean port terminal companies can not repeat the same strategies the GTOs used to take to become what they are now. Instead, it is more important to minimize the risks that foreign terminal operators can face in overseas market, such as the difference of law, culture, labor practices, government policy change, etc.. As a result, the new concept of Global Terminal Investor(GTI) is a very helpful idea to meet this purpose. The Global Terminal Operator(GTO) has to continuously deal with a lot of risks mentioned above, in addition to initial large investment, whereas the concept of GTI can secure global terminal networks with relatively small initial investment and much less operational risks. The financial investor cases in Busan port also tell the benefits of the investors than the operators. Also the financial analysis of the Korean port terminal companies tells only Port Authorities can initiate the GTI in terms of financial capability.
In conclusion, the GTI is the best strategy that can be considered for Korean port termianl companies and the port authority should start the global terminal investment after being equipped with the specialist group, including financial and legal specialist with abundant global experiences.
However, this research is limited with the number of study cases and more comprehensive analysis should be made to understand the impact of GTI can put on the operators in terms of the global network.