Among the many topics covered in this year’s State of the Union Address, President Obama discussed two issues that are critical for the continued growth of the U.S. economy — international trade and transportation infrastructure. Both are priorities the retail industry strongly supports.
Matthew Shay, National Retail Federation CEO and president
Peter Tirschwell, Chief Content Officer
If you missed what Moffatt & Nichol economist Walter Kemmsies told the SMC3 Jumpstart Conference in January, his words bear repeating. As reported by JOC Group Senior Editor Bill Cassidy, Kemmsies said the biggest threat to global trade isn’t protectionism, war, terrorism, disease or natural disaster. Instead, it’s mounting congestion at ports around the world, a phenomenon that’s been building for years and burst out into the open in 2014.
Congress should pass a new Miscellaneous Tariff Bill in 2015. But lawmakers should also consider sensible enhancements to the Foreign-Trade Zones program, including full funding of Customs automation, expanding direct delivery to speed shipments from ports to zones, and revising the FTZ Act to put companies and workers in U.S. zones on a more equal footing with their competitors in free trade agreement partner countries.
J. Stanley Payne
Let’s call 2015 the year of cautious optimism for U.S. ports. What will it bring?
A 3PL says it sometimes prints one or two “original” trucking bills of lading for drivers to sign for receipt. Is it doing the right thing? Or can this create potential problems later?
Chris Brooks, Executive Editor
The honeymoon in the wake of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service assuming control of the West Coast talks between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and its employers lasted less than a week. If anything, the negotiations have reached a nadir since mediators joined the fray, with both sides engaging in a war of words that has busted wide open a mutual pledge the two sides made when this process began last May not to discuss details of the negotiations.
Mark Szakonyi, Associate Managing Editor
President Obama once again called for dramatically improving U.S. infrastructure and receiving expanded powers to finalize two major trade pacts during last night’s State of the Union address.
Susan Kohn Ross
Being compliant with trade regulations among various federal departments goes a long way to getting your company where it needs to end up in order for costs to be consistent and predictable.
What will 2015 look like for an industry that has had four consecutive underperforming years? There are many issues to deal with, but let’s focus on the few that mean the most. At the top of the list is the lack of profitability among ocean carriers and West Coast labor and congestion issues that I don’t see clearing up any time soon.
As we approach the TPM Conference in March, it’s hard to recall any year in the 15 years of this event when the industry was more unsettled, more dissatisfied and more uncertain of what the future holds. Such is the result of a monumentally troublesome 2014, when shippers and their providers absorbed more broadsides from more directions and with less notice than any year in memory.
In this column last year, FTR predicted a bumpy ride for 2014 in trucking, using phrases such as “modest growth meets static capacity,” “it’s all about drivers” and “it’s not a wave of regulations, it’s a storm surge.” Now, with 2014 in the rearview mirror, we can say our outlook was fairly on the mark. So where do we see things going for 2015, and will the coming months see a repeat of 2014’s stormy conditions?
Companies that prefer to keep their operations in-house can leverage some of the best practices used by logistics providers to reduce costs and increase their bottom line.
Although the facts appear to present a dismal picture for the U.S. highway system, some silver linings have emerged as a result of it.
Chris Brooks, Executive Editor
2014 was far from the first year to see waterfront labor issues disrupt cargo flows at U.S. ports. Nor was it the first year to see the formation of large vessel-sharing alliances, big ships, equipment dislocations, truck driver shortages, suspect rail service or unexpectedly strong growth in cargo volumes. Each has been prevalent throughout North American supply chains in given years going back a decade or, in some cases, more. But what made 2014 unique is that they converged simultaneously to form a potent mix that sets the stage for one of the more challenging years in memory for supply chains.