Dean Davidson, Head of Maritime Advisory, Infrata
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Dean Davidson, Head of Maritime Advisory, Infrata

The past few years have brought many challenges to the container industry, but the fundamental dynamics remain solid. North America is an established and extremely important market. 

Larger ships generally means higher box exchanges, though specific market dynamics remain. Loaded Asian imports will remain the dominant activity at major US and Canadian ports and pressure will remain on these gateways to get the containers moved onto the next leg of the supply chain, whether its trucking, rail, transloading or onward distribution.

This is where port partners have a crucial role to play. A port can have large cranes, sufficient berth space for the ships and a good efficient workforce, but the truckers and rail road partners need to play their part with service quality, and there must be room in warehouses and transload centers.

This simply proves that while ports are a vital part of the supply chain, the network itself is a partnership between all parties.

In 2024, US and Canadian ports will be looking to recover from the throughput challenges of 2023. With the industry now hopeful of being fully over the challenges caused by COVID-­19, it’s possible to take stock. Comparison to pre-pandemic throughput levels in 2019 is a good gauge. 
However, there will be some changes in the market. Continued vessel cascading will occur and the forthcoming end of the 2M Alliance will see changes to liner shipping deployments and schedules and, potentially, ports of call.

Nevertheless, from a port perspective the basic fundamentals will remain. A good geographic location, modern and efficient equipment and good support infrastructure are always of paramount importance. The challenge will be the same as it is every year — all links in the supply chain performing optimally to ensure the most efficient level of service to BCOs.