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This paper argues for a more actor-centred approach in freight transportation studies, one that includes freight shippers and public authorities, as well as carriers, and that pays close attention to the relationships between these actors. One advantage of this approach is that it focuses on the conditions under which global logistics flows may become relatively fixed in particular localities. The perspective is illustrated through a discussion of the geography of port usage by importers of automobiles to the US since 1980. The need to secure space at or near marine terminals for vehicle processing activities is a driving factor in port selection. While the overall trade in automobiles has not become concentrated in fewer ports over the last 20 years, individual firms are concentrating the bulk of their import operations in fewer ports. This mutual specialisation involves a process of interpenetration between actors that is only visible in a disaggregated analysis.
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Keywords: Logistics; United States; automobiles; seaports; transport geography

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Geography, University of Waterloo, 200 University Avenue West, Waterloo, Ontario, N2L 3G1, Canada., Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 2004-04-01

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