Merseyside's port industry is under threat following a revamping of the rates system by the Government, which could lead to 3,000 job losses within the sector.
A body representing 70 port companies, the Mersey Dock Rating Group, said firms were preparing for a threefold increase in rate bills.
MDRG said firms were now required to pay three years of rates in one sum and believe it could potentially lead to some small companies going bankrupt.
Business rates were previously the responsibility of the port authority, which collected them as part of the rent charged to leaseholders based on port turnover. However, rates will now be collected as direct levy.
Merseyside's ports had cargo volumes recording 32m tonnes last year, which is a major contrast to the 9m tonnes recorded in 1984.