Chairman of the executive board
It seems apparent from independent trade analysis that 2006 will represent another year of strong global trade activity with continued expansion of services to existing and emerging markets worldwide. The surge of new carrier fleet capacity coming into the marketplace will be needed to serve this growth. It will also free up existing tonnage to expand regional markets and feeder service links to mainline trade routes.
We continue to face significant cost and operational challenges in the year ahead. Despite a temporary moderation in the price of oil per barrel, higher energy costs are clearly the new reality for all aspects of the global transportation industry. They must be recognized and factored into rate structures at all levels.
Innovative programs such as PierPass are clearly having a positive effect on port and intermodal congestion problems in Southern California, but a massive collective effort is needed to address these challenges globally and for the long term. They include improvement of rail and truck connections to ports, expansion of port and terminal capacity, and supporting and encouraging the hiring, retention and training of skilled personnel in transportation and logistics careers.
Carriers must address the challenge of global equipment imbalances. Independent trade statistics document a more than 2-1 eastbound vs. westbound difference alone in the 17.5 million-TEU trade flow between North America and Asia. On north-south trade routes, the differences are as much as two times greater northbound than southbound. Partial solutions include improved economies of scale, new technologies and increased use of transshipment resources to make more efficient use of inventories and reduce equipment idle time.