The world's transportation sector can look forward to a period of sustained growth of international trade into the 21st century, an industry conference was told here Monday.
"The expansion of trade will be a key engine of growth for the transportation industry in the years ahead," said Jacob Frenkel, governor of the Bank of Israel.Mr. Frenkel was addressing the opening session of Toronto '94, a four-day conference held under the theme of "2001: A Transportation Odyssey."
Attended by 800 delegates from 63 countries, the event is combining the 22nd biennial conference of the International Cargo Handling Coordination Association with the annual business conference of Ports Canada, a federal agency overseeing the leading Canadian maritime gateways.
While commenting on the economic trends affecting the transportation industry globally, Mr. Frenkel noted that in 1994, Europe was lagging Asia and North America in the pace of economic recovery.
The Asia-Pacific region, he said, is forecast to record economic growth of 8 percent this year, compared with just over 1 percent for the European Union, 4 percent for the United States and 3.5 percent for Canada.
The average growth rate of the world economy in 1994, he said, will be about 3 percent, adding that the growth of certain countries in Latin America, such as Mexico and Chile, will outstrip the world average.
With regard to prospects for the 21st century, Mr. Frenkel said he is encouraged by such developments as the accelerated progress of market-driven forces since the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe, the reduction of the role of governments and recent multilateral and regional trade liberalization agreements.
Sounding a more cautionary note, however, was Tom d'Aquino, president of the Business Council on National Issues, which represents Canada's large corporations.
"In 1989, things looked pretty good - but the overall picture suddenly deteriorated," Mr. d'Aquino said.
"Today," he said, "we are seeing millions of refugees on the march. Some people speak darkly of a clash of civilizations."
With a "jobless recovery" the order of the day in many countries, Mr. d'Aquino stressed, "We in fact need a revitalized world order and more forceful international institutions."
In this connection, he said it was "vitally important" for the World Trade Organization, which is to take over next year as the supervisory body for world trade from the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade "to establish its credibility right away."
Mr. d'Aquino also expressed concern over revived "protectionist forces in the U.S. Congress aimed at killing or delaying the implementation" of the completed GATT Uruguay Round multilateral trade deal.
Lillian Liburdi, director of the port department at the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, said, "The globalization of transportation is clearly a reality - the world is getting smaller and faster."
Touching on a theme that will be discussed in greater detail during the conference, Arnold Masters, chairman of Canada Ports Corp., said that one of the biggest challenges entering the next century will be how the transportation industry will adjust to "too much infrastructure chasing available business."