What’s ahead for the maritime industry in 2013? In a phrase — cautious optimism.
World trade still shows strong growth trends, and while economic uncertainty, especially as related to the European Union, is an ongoing cause for concern, there are also bright spots on the horizon, including the strength of Latin American economies.
PortMiami benefits from historically strong ties to South and Central American countries. Many of these nations — including Brazil, Colombia and Chile — have performed extremely well in recent years and offer tremendous opportunities for future growth. New U.S. free trade agreements with Colombia and Panama are expected to boost international trade and commerce in this part of the world.
To capitalize on growth potential, our nation needs an updated and strategic approach for investments in trade and logistics, particularly as related to ports. In Florida, our 15 deep-water ports are working in conjunction with our state government, to create a Freight Mobility and Trade Plan, aimed at moving goods to market cheaper and faster. Florida, now No. 4 in the nation for trade, has the very real opportunity to move up in the rankings.
Trends in logistics must be watched carefully over the next five to 10 years to fully understand the consequences for efficiently moving cargo. Changes could be sweeping as we no longer look only to China, but consider near-sourcing more and more for producing intermediate and finished goods closer to home.
Fuel prices could also play a big role. I am betting on declining, or at least stabilized prices, that together with larger dramatically larger container vessels could have significant positive impact on the cost of moving product.
While no one knows exactly how it will all play out, I believe that for those who are flexible and focused, there are some very good opportunities ahead that will generate sustainable growth in 2013 and beyond.