Friday, March 30, 2012

Experts Predict Growth in Goods Movement

There’s a sense of optimism among goods movement industry experts and executives regarding Southern California’s upcoming peak shipping season, but challenges still remain, they say.

During the eighth annual “Pulse of the Ports” peak season forecast conference, which was hosted March 28 by the Port of Long Beach, representatives from across the supply chain examined the trends and expectations in international trade.

The general consensus, the panel of experts told the audience of about 400 at the Hyatt Regency Long Beach, was that international cargo shipping should be busier during this year’s peak season of summer and early fall than it was in 2011.

“Importers are optimistic and they believe sales will increase this year,” Daniel Wall, a senior vice president with logistics firm Expeditors, said. “And they are excited about it.”

Additionally, exports, which have been the backbone of the economic recovery of the West Coast goods movement industry, are expected to continue to rise, according to Walter Kemmsies, chief economist for civil engineering company Moffatt & Nichol.

The optimism was tempered, however, by concern for regulatory challenges facing the trucking industry and the sense that economic recovery in this country is still a work in progress.

Among the factors that can determine the speed of the recovery include economic challenges in European countries and geopolitical instability in oil-rich countries in the Middle East. However, the long-term picture looks good, experts say, partially due to ongoing investment in infrastructure.

Among those infrastructure projects is the Middle Harbor redevelopment, a nine-year, $1.2 billion Port of Long Beach project under which two aging shipping terminals will be combined into a more modern and efficient one.

Shipping line OOCL recently signed a 40-year, $4.6 billion lease to operate the terminal.

“The Middle Harbor redevelopment project will enable us to meet the challenge of the future,” OOCL USA President Erxin Yao told the assemblage.

An archived webcast of the “Pulse of the Ports” forecast is available at