France to build on maritime expertise by opening up ports

France, which has a long maritime tradition thanks to its extensive coastlines along the Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea and the Mediterranean, is now reforming its ports to improve its economic attractiveness and competitiveness.

With a combined volume of 384.7 million tons (101.6Mt for the ports of Le Havre and Rouen combined, and 100Mt for the port of Marseille), French ports have great development potential. They rank behind only the ports of Rotterdam in the Netherlands (430Mt), Antwerp in Belgium (200Mt), and Hamburg in Germany (140Mt) in terms of volume. Sea links, as well as recently established inter-European cabotage links, have contributed to French port development. Currently, 72% of France’s imports and exports are transported by sea. French shipping companies include Cetragpa, Marfret, Socatra, Bourbon, Louis Dreyfus, Geogas and Compagnie Maritime Nantaise. CMA CGM alone accounts for more than half of French tonnage. The ports of Le Havre (Port 2000 Le Havre) and Marseille (Fos 2 XL Marseille) have already made strategic investments in order to adapt to developments in maritime transport, i.e. the transport of bulk raw materials such as coal and iron ore, the widespread use of container transport, and the concentration of traffic within leading ports. These ports have become the main interface between maritime and terrestrial transport systems.

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