What’s ahead for the maritime industry in 2012? In a word — uncertainty.
We are looking for continued growth in the coming year, but global events, including ongoing economic uncertainties in the European Union, leave a question mark as to how robust of a growth curve we will see.
Despite, the uncertain times, I remain bullish. The Port of Miami benefits from historically strong ties to Latin America. Many of these nations—including Brazil, Chile and Colombia — recorded impressive numbers even during the worst of the recession. We anticipate continued cargo traffic growth with our neighbors to the South.
Other good news is the recent U.S. approved Free Trade Agreements with Colombia, Panama and Korea. Once implemented, hopefully in early 2012, these agreements will boost international trade and commerce in this part of the world.
And, there is one certainty that we can all can count on: All eyes are on the Panama Canal expansion as the scheduled 2014 completion date nears. Ports throughout the U.S., most notably those along the Eastern Seaboard, are anticipating the impact of larger vessels passing through the canal and what opportunities lie ahead for new Asian business. Ports are investing heavily in infrastructure improvements that will allow them to compete in what many expect to be a shifting marketplace.
Although no one knows exactly how it will play out, we need to stay alert, flexible and focused to identify the opportunities, and do the business, that will generate sustainable growth in 2012 and beyond.