Terminals favor the agglomeration of related activities in their proximity and often adjacent to them (co-location). This terminal-client link mainly involves warehousing and distribution activities (A). The contribution of transport terminals to regional economic growth can often be substantial. As regional demand grows, so does the traffic handled by the related terminal. This is turn can spur further investments to expand the capabilities of the terminal and the creation of a new terminal (B). Economists have identified clusters as a critical element in shaping competition between countries, regions and industries. Clusters are defined as interdependent organizations that operate in the same value chain and are geographically concentrated.
This concept can be applied to seaports, which are made up of firms engaged in the transfer of goods in the port and their distribution in the foreland or hinterland. It also includes logistics activities as well as processing firms and administrative bodies such as a port authority. The performance of the seaport cluster is defined as the added value generated by the cluster, and is shaped by the interrelationships between the structure of the cluster and its governance. Cluster structure refers to the agglomeration effects and the degree of internal cohesion and competition. Cluster governance relates to the mix of, and relations between, organizations and institutions that foster coordination and pursue projects that improve the cluster as a whole.
Cluster theory underlines that port activity, historically at least, generates strong agglomeration economies that produce strong spatially distinct port communities. Despite similarities in results from economic impact studies, airports and rail terminals have received limited attention of cluster theorists. Still, the setting of inland ports represent a novel form of clustering around rail terminals.