We see firsthand the importance of trade between the US and Mexico, as export grain is our largest southbound cross-border commodity. Certainly, if the US would like to make progress toward closing the $63 billion trade deficit with Mexico, look no further than the opportunity to export refined products, LPGs, and plastics into Mexico.
As today’s digital revolution unfolds, US freight railroads must keep pace to support technological innovation, economic growth, and the demands of a global transportation system — just as they did during the industrial revolution. Then, the steam engine revolutionized transportation. Now, data analytics is the game-changing engine that can drive advances in the global logistics industry.
While the North American rail industry remains focused on maintaining a strong supply chain, we know the pace of change is accelerating. This has had a direct impact on our business mix.
As the transactional API economy continues to expand in the supply chain arena in 2018, customers need to carefully examine all the options. The ability to swiftly determine transportation pricing is key to a healthy, effective supply chain. Finding a solution that can quickly return shipment pricing, provide enough horsepower for detailed analytics, and fuel shipment-mode optimization processes will never be out of style.
More is expected from every provider in the supply chain. From the transportation side, it means a need for greater reliability of service, more visibility, and partners easy to do business with.
We need to do a better job communicating the facts — that the US-flag maritime sector provides nearly 500,000 middle-class American jobs and generates nearly $100 billion in economic output; that it enhances national security by ensuring the availability of qualified seafarers, ships, and intermodal assets for times of war or national emergency; and that it provides the industrial base vital to defense shipbuilding, maintenance, and repair. We also need to dispel the myths — the Jones Act does not drive the cost of shipping goods to remote places like Puerto Rico or require that all goods arrive on US ships.
I see industry consolidation continuing the trend of non-vessel operators gaining market share. BCOs will continue to search out NVOs to navigate the world of acquiring vessel space, react quickly to higher supply chain velocity, solve problems, and create value in the process of handling and managing their cargo. NVOs have used these tools to gain share in the past, and I see this continuing.
It is no longer enough to know and understand concepts from a textbook, a chart or SOLAS regulations. In addition to the knowledge and skills they learn in college, students need to learn to be flexible enough to serve the demands of their rapidly changing workplaces. Beyond a given skill set, the future maritime workforce needs more than ever to learn the flexibility, adaptability, and creative and innovative problem-solving skills that will prepare them for changes to the industries in which they work and for the many different jobs and careers they are likely to hold.
2018 will be the final year of the current International Longshoremen’s Association master contract. As much as technology and innovation continue to rewrite the ways that we do business, our industry is still very much a people business. The men and women who work our piers every day are the backbone of our successes. For the good of the maritime industry and international shipping, it is imperative that we reach an agreement quickly and without any interruptions to our supply chains.
The US industrial real estate market shows no signs of slowing in 2018; you haven’t heard the last of all-time highs for now.
Going forward, technology will be leveraged to empower shippers and carriers to more seamlessly communicate and transact business. Shippers’ evolving needs for improved supply chain visibility and resiliency will be the catalyst for innovative technology-enabled service offerings.
Just as technology is rapidly transforming the supply chain, transportation professionals must embrace new ideas and find ways to incorporate technology into their networks by increasing visibility, improving key performance metrics, and evaluating various transportation options. Only by embracing technology while retaining the human relationships that sustain our industry, will shippers become a shipper of choice.
As we enter 2018, the retail industry is coming off another strong holiday season bolstered by strong consumer confidence. Despite some media reports, the retail industry is not dying; it continues to evolve to meet the needs of its consumers, just like every other industry. Successful retailers will be those who adapt to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.
As America’s retailers look ahead to the new year, RILA believes strengthening and innovating the retail supply chain will be one of the top priorities for the industry. We see this done through three distinct ways: focusing on trade policies that keep America competitive on the global stage, working with the US Congress, the administration, and external stakeholders to update and strengthen infrastructure, and continuing to help the retail community foster cultures of innovation throughout the ecosystem.
With agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement under review, it is important for US industries that have found success under these agreements to have opportunities for further growth. It is also concerning that in Japan — the largest value destination for US beef and pork — our competitors are poised to make access gains while a US-Japan trade agreement seems to be nowhere on the horizon.
For the upcoming year(s), I expect to see major shifts in visibility, use of Internet of Things, and connectivity between all parties in the supply chain.
Longshore workers worldwide are experiencing firsthand the rapidly changing shipping industry.
There are always a number of moving parts in our industry that keep us on our toes.
The container-leasing industry demonstrated great resilience by navigating through and recovering from the Hanjin Line bankruptcy in 2016, the largest such failure in container shipping.
Port leaders face critical decisions in 2018.