Freight News, Sea

US ports strike – a sign of the nightmare to come?

[ April 14, 2015   //   ]

Lack of port, road and rail infrastructure could create the ‘perfect storm’ for shipping – and the recent US West Coast port strike was a preview of a potentially nightmare scenario, warned the Global Shippers’ Forum (GSF).

Secretary-general, Chris Welsh told the Eurocoke Summit in Amsterdam on 14 April that increasing international trade will set unprecedented challenges to the transport system, “particularly around ports, in port hinterland distribution and in surface road and rail freight movements.”
Welsh told leading global procurement leaders in the world coke, coal and steel industry: “The OECD and other international agencies project that trade related international freight will grow by a factor of 4.3 by 2050. Future growth will be driven by changes to production …reflected in the fact that nine of the world’s top ten ports are located in Asia with China alone accounting for seven of the top ten ports and of a continuous shift of economic activity to emerging economies.”
The recent US West Coast ports’ strike was “a glimpse of a nightmare situation with larger container ships, new maritime alliance configurations, vessel bunching, port congestion, labour disputes and a lack of inland haulage” which had had unforeseen consequences for supply chains and the US economy.
Welsh added: “Some US economic analysts have said that the situation has had a “drag” effect on US GDP…costing the US economy billions of dollars.”
GSF is calling on industry and regulators to work together in order to avoid any future congestion crises; with better scenario planning and putting contingency strategies in place. GSF also wants regulators to ask more searching questions about the impact of the new mega vessel maritime alliances.
Welsh concluded: “With agricultural products rotting at the port, lost contracts and empty shelves, those engaged in the supply chain have a clear responsibility to prevent future breakdowns, and in undertaking some future proofing to finding solutions to further potential problems.”

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