Stephen A. Edwards, CEO, The Port of Virginia
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Stephen A. Edwards, CEO, The Port of Virginia

Trade patterns are shifting to the benefit of the US East Coast (USEC) as Southeast Asia and the Indian Subcontinent emerge as manufacturing centers.

Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent are two of the world’s fastest-growing economies. The combined region is home to nearly 2 billion people, a rising middle class, a combined gross domestic product of almost $6 billion and a rapidly expanding manufacturing sector. This growth has led to a surge in demand for goods and services from around the world, including the US.

Long-term investments in manufacturing infrastructure being made in Southeast Asia and the Indian Subcontinent and the strength of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) regional trade bloc (that does not include India), prove that this not a temporary shift. ASEAN is the USEC’s fourth-largest trading partner and in 2022, total trade between the USEC and ASEAN was more than $260 billion.

Overlay those facts with trends like the rapid growth of e-commerce that is driving demand for faster and more efficient shipping of goods and the challenges of doing business on the US West Coast. The result is a window of opportunity for those USEC ports that can efficiently handle more growth while servicing — and growing — the traditional business from North Asia, Europe, the Middle East and other regions.

The Port of Virginia is investing $1.4 billion to ensure readiness. By 2025 our channels will be wide enough and deep enough for two-way passage of ultra-large container ships. We’re expanding and optimizing our 21st century technologically-advanced terminals. And we are doing all of this with a goal of being carbon neutral by 2040. The results are sub-40-minute turn times for motor carriers, low dwell times for rail freight, high berth productivity and expanding economic investment outside of the gates.