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Gateways, Corridors and Global Freight Distribution: TransPacific Issues
Jean Paul Rodrigue, Hofstra University, New York

Abstract
Transport corridors are receiving a growing level of attention, particularly with the surge of containerized maritime freight and the setting of more efficient - time and cost-wise - freight distribution systems. Global commodity chains, with a strong Pacific Asian component and controlled by large modal and intermodal freight operators, have become an operational reality. Particularly, the role of maritime shipping companies and more recently port holding companies is salient in long distance international transportation. Their commercial decisions in terms of the allocation and acquisition of their assets (modes and terminals) are a significant factor behind the dynamism of hubs and gateways. Consequently, the global economy is characterized by the emergence of maritime and inland transport corridors that are interfacing at gateways. While maritime corridors are flexible and subjects to the fluctuations of trade, inland corridors are fixed entities that command the access to vast hinterlands. This accessibility has been the object of much concern as it is linked with commercial and development opportunities, particularly with the ongoing trend related to the penetration of inland transportation, mainly by the setting of corridors and inland freight distribution centers.

Few parts of the world have experienced such a surge in trade than the transpacific and its commodity chains. The functional integration of these chains has placed pressures on West Coast gateways and corridors. For instance major long distance rail eastbound segments, particularly in the United States, are facing acute capacity constraints. An outcome has been the exploration of alternatives such as new corridors (e.g. from Prince Rupert in Canada and Ensenada in Mexico). In such a context of transpacific commodity chains and North American freight distribution, Western Canadian transport corridors are consequently been redefined by external factors which brings challenges but also opportunities.

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