Emerging Europe opportunities in the Ports sector

The Emerging Europe region offers extensive opportunities across the ports sector. The markets are low-risk, close to home and all offer considerable long-term growth potential for UK businesses.

Market overview

Maritime transport as a critical contributor to trade competitiveness offers huge advantages to the countries with an adequate coastline, influencing the development and extension projects of such countries.

Currently, Constanta, Burgas, Vukovar and Koper are all involved in different phases of their massive development programmes. Greater volumes from bigger ships generate an acute need for infrastructure improvement and this became a priority in EE.

Romania and Bulgaria are developing master plans for Constanta and Burgas with the aim to increase traffic and use all available potential. Intermodal connectivity for the EE ports is another priority as it can develop services that are more intermodal and it can connect to hinterlands ports that initially were not intermodal connected.

Key opportunities


Opportunities in Austria are limited since Austria has no access to the sea. Nevertheless, mainly due to the river Danube and the direct connection between the North Sea and the black sea, there are two major ports (Vienna and Linz) in Austria. Both of these ports will increase their capacity which might bring opportunities for interested UK companies.


Bulgaria offers good opportunities related to its ports both on the Black Sea and the Danube river. It has already started a programme of granting operating concessions for several ports and further concessions will be announced in late 2012 and early 2013. In addition, some of the ports have initiated extensive development programmes.

For example, the port of Burgas on the Black Sea has a master plan for the development of the port until 2015, which includes the construction of new cargo terminals, a passenger terminal and the creation of new public area.

Bulgaria also participates in the European Commission’s Strategy for the Danube Region, which encompasses initiatives for the improvement of accessibility, transport connections and communications along and towards Danube.


In the last few years Croatian ports have benefited from an uprising trend regarding cargo and passenger traffic. There are 7 national ports in Croatia with two of the cargo ports being on main European routes, Corridor V linking Hungary and Rijeka port and VC Corridor through Bosnia and Hercegovina down to Ploce cargo port.

There are a number of investment and construction projects in pipeline with the major ones being the development of port of Vukovar – building of the continental waterways and access to Danube cargo transport links, extension of Port of Zadar cargo terminal, Phase II of Rijeka Gateway Project in the Port of Rijeka etc. Other projects include upgrade of infrastructure, ferry terminals and docks in the port of Split, Sibenik and Zadar.


Total cargo traffic in Polish seaports (together main seaports and smaller seaports) in 2011 was 57.7 mln tonnes. Increasing tendency was noted by major ports such as Gdynia and Gdansk. It is evident that the role of seaports in the trans-European transport network as intermodal hubs depends on the efficiency and quality of land connections to their hinterlands. Therefore, the Polish Government continues promoting the development of the port infrastructure, as well as the access infrastructure and connections between the seaports and their hinterlands.

Poland focuses its efforts on upgrading infrastructure for intermodal transport, especially for container, ferry and ro-ro terminals as well as logistics centres operated by rail, road and inland waterway transport. Financing of new port infrastructure is included into priorities of the Operational Programme “Infrastructure and Environment” 2007 – 2013. The programme will continue in the next financial perspective.


Constanta is a world class maritime port, ranked among the first 10 European ports in terms of traffic handled. Constanta is the main container hub at the Black Sea, offering all premises for the transhipment of the containers or from the Central Europe, by using the Danube, the most efficient and shortest route to Europe. The Danube crosses Romania and reaches the Black Sea, becoming a key component in the European river-maritime network.

In order to become a competitive hub in the CEE area, Constanta Port has to develop its railway connections (300 km of railways) and a ferry boat terminal. The current plans consist in: building a new switch-yard in the port of Constanta, double the railway lines, build 11 km of new lines with the aim of ranking Constanta Seaport 2nd in Europe in terms of traffic. Currently the Maritime Ports Administration launched a tender for technical assistance for the elaboration of Constanta Port Master Plan, valued at app. EUR 2 million.


The Port of Koper is Slovenia’s only Port. Apart from Slovenia, the Port’s major inland markets are Austria, Italy, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and former Yugoslav countries. The Port comprises of 2 Piers, but in order to compete with ports in Trieste and Rijeka respectively it is planning to expand its facilities.

The Slovenian government who owns 45% of the Port is keen in the expansion and has delivered a National Programme for the Development of the Port. By 2015, Pier III is planned to be constructed at the Port of Koper and existing Piers I and II are planned to be extended. The newly built Pier III will mainly serve for reloading of containers and the tip of the Pier will be used by the Slovenian Army. The value of this opportunity is EUR 450m.

Latest export opportunities – Ports & Logistics

Latest export opportunities – Austria

Latest export opportunities – Bulgaria

Latest export opportunities – Croatia

Latest export opportunities – Poland

Latest export opportunities – Romania

Latest export opportunities – Slovenia

Getting into the market

Doing business in the ports sector may have cultural aspects for each individual country, though the European Union rules govern the business environment. A good route to markets is always by identifying an agent or a partner, especially for taking part in tenders for port development projects and procurements.

More about doing business in Emerging Europe


Market intelligence is critical when doing business overseas, and UKTI can provide bespoke market research and support during overseas visits though our chargeable Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS).

To commission research or for general advice about the market, get in touch with our specialists in country – or contact your local international trade team.

Contact your local international trade team

UKTI Events

UKTI runs a range of events for exporters, including seminars in the UK, trade missions to overseas markets and support for attendance at overseas trade shows.

Latest events – Ports & Logistics

Major Events

2nd Danube Financing Dialogue

24-25 January 2013


Useful links

More about OMIS and other UKTI services for exporters

Sectors: Ports & Logistics
Countries: Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Europe, Poland, Romania, and Slovenia
Export Action Plan