The Productivity Commission says its investigation into the freight sector will explore important and contentious issues and all parts of the international supply chain will be put under the microscope.
Chairman Murray Sherwin says New Zealand exporters and importers spend about $5 billion dollars per year on freight.
He says a better performance in the sector should result in lower prices for importers, higher profits for exporting industries, and quicker freight turnaround.
The commission issued a paper setting out the issues on Wednesday, examining local authority ownership of ports and the ways in which competition, co-operation and regulation play out in international freight transport.
It wants public feedback on the paper to shape its inquiry.
The commission will issue its draft recommendations in December this year, and deliver its final report and recommendations to the Government in April.