Ports: Stable service through uncertain times
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Like so many of the links that make up the global supply chain, the North American ports continue to do their best to operate under the specter of consistent change—pressures that are often dictated by forces out of their control.
“Over the many year’s I’ve covered this market segment, port authorities are always being told to prepare for the uncertain,” says executive editor Patrick Burnson. “Each year there seems to be a new herculean challenge, and then it’s hurry up and wait.”
The latest of these massive challenges was the preparation for the expanded Panama Canal locks that went into operation in mid-2016. According to industry analysts, the impact of that development has yet to be fully measured.
In the meantime, Burnson reports that massive capital improvements at the nation’s ports continue to center on capacity enhancements to accommodate larger container ships being routed through Panama—and for the even more massive “mega” vessels on all-water routes.
While labor issues have been somewhat stable around the U.S., port authorities now also have to monitor renegotiated trade agreements and newly implemented tariffs being pushed through by the Trump administration, moves that could result in changes to import and export volumes.
“And don’t forget, the U.S. withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership may adversely affect cargo volumes across all of the nation’s ports,” adds Burnson. “But again, we won’t know the full effects of these moves for quite some time.”
Through all of this preparation for an uncertain future, LM readers tell us that these North American ocean gateways continue to step up with world class service despite a still unsettled global ocean freight market.
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